CEO 82-49 -- July 29, 1982
CONFLICT OF INTEREST; DISCLOSURE OF BUSINESS INTERESTS
CHIEF OF POLICE ESTABLISHING CONSULTING BUSINESS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
To: Mr. Lee McGehee, Chief of Police, City of Ocala
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject chief of police of a municipality to establish a business which would provide consulting services to law enforcement agencies outside of the county. It does not appear that any law enforcement agency with which he might consult is doing business with, or is subject to the regulation of, the police department. Nor does it appear that there is any reason to believe that the chief of police would be disclosing or using information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of his official position for his personal gain or benefit, as prohibited by Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes. As this type of consulting business is not one of those enumerated in Section 112.312(14), Florida Statutes, which defines the specified types of businesses for purposes of disclosure under Section 112.313(9), Florida Statutes, an interest in a law enforcement consulting business need not be disclosed on Form 3, "Disclosure of Specified Business Interests."
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, the Chief of Police of a municipality, to establish a business which would provide consulting services to law enforcement agencies?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are interested in establishing a private business to provide consulting services to law enforcement agencies both within and outside the State. The business would provide such services as general management surveys, police records system studies, training programs, and the development of computerized police systems such as crime analysis. You also advise that no business would be conducted within the City or the County within which your City is located, that no work would be performed through the City Police Department, and that no Department equipment or staff would be involved. Finally, you advise that prior to your serving as Chief of Police, you had engaged in law enforcement consulting activities and held a number of positions in the areas of law enforcement and in criminal justice education.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S.]
This provision prohibits you from having any employment or contractual relationship with an agency which either is doing business with, or is subject to the regulation of, your agency. As Chief of Police, we find that your "agency" is the Police Department. See Section 112.312(2), Florida Statutes, defining the term "agency." It does not appear that any law enforcement agency with which you might consult is doing business with or subject to the regulation of the Police Department.
The Code of Ethics also provides:
MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall corruptly use or attempt to use his official position or any property or resource which may be within his trust, or perform his official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself or others. This section shall not be construed to conflict with s. 104.31. [Section 112.313(6), F. S.]
DISCLOSURE OR USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall disclose or use information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of his official position for his personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity. [Section 112.313(8), F. S.]
These provisions generally would prohibit you from using any facilities, materials, equipment, or staff of the Police Department not available to members of the general public in pursuing your private business.
In CEO 78-81, we found that Section 112.313(8) would not prohibit a chief of police from accepting compensation for lectures and consulting services to private businesses based upon experience gained as a law enforcement agent prior to becoming Chief of Police. Similarly, based upon your prior experience in law enforcement and as a consultant, we find that this provision would not prohibit the consulting activities which you contemplate.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to establish a business which would provide consulting services to law enforcement agencies.
Must an interest in a law enforcement consulting business be disclosed pursuant to Section 112.313(9), Florida Statutes?
This question is answered in the negative.
Section 112.313(9), Florida Statutes, requires public officers and employees to disclose certain interests in any business entity which "is granted a privilege to operate in this state . . . ." We have promulgated Form 3, Disclosure of Specified Business Interests, for use in making this disclosure. However, only interests in certain types of businesses are required to be disclosed; those types of businesses are specified as follows in Section 112.312(14), Florida Statutes:
'Person or business entities provided a grant or privilege to operate' includes state and federally chartered banks, state and federal savings and loan associations, cemetery companies, credit unions, small loan companies, alcoholic beverage licensees, pari-mutuel wagering companies, utility companies, and entities controlled by the Public Service Commission or granted a franchise to operate by either a city or county government.
As the consulting business which you propose to establish does not fall within the categories of businesses specified by the Legislature, we find that you need not file a disclosure of your interests in that business under Section 112.313(9), Florida Statutes.