CEO 83-75 -- September 22, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY POLICE OFFICER OFFERED FREE APARTMENT
To: Mr. J. Michael Swaine, City Attorney, City of Sebring
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city police officer to accept the offer of an apartment for himself and his family rent free. Under the circumstances presented, it does not appear that the offer was made to influence any official action in which the officer might be expected to participate, that the officer solicited this benefit, or that the officer may have used his official position in order to obtain it.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city police officer to accept the offer of an apartment for himself and his family rent free?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you advise that Mr. Alvin Walters is a Police Officer for the City of Sebring. You also advise that the managers of a low-cost housing project located within the City have offered an apartment to this officer, rent free, for a period of one year. The managers feel that having an officer and his family reside in the complex would help deter vandalism and other criminal activity in the project. The officer would like to accept this offer, if it would not violate the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.
The Code of Ethics provides in relevant part:
SOLICITATION OR ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS. -- No public officer, employee of an agency, or candidate for nomination or election shall solicit or accept anything of value to the recipient, including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor, or service, based upon any understanding that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public officer, employee, or candidate would be influenced thereby. [Section 112.313(2), Florida Statutes (Supp. 1982).]
UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency or his spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when such public officer or employee knows, or, with the exercise of reasonable care should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer or employee was expected to participate in his official capacity. [Section 112.313(4), Florida Statutes (1981).]
You have advised that the managers of the project state that the provision of the apartment would not be made in an attempt to influence the police officer in any official action or judgment and would not require any additional services to the project. The police officer does not feel that accepting the use of an apartment would influence his judgment or official action as a police officer towards the project or its managers. The immediate supervisor of the officer concurs in that belief, you advised.
Under the circumstances, it does not appear that the free use of the apartment would be given based upon any understanding that the official action of the police officer would be influenced. Nor does it appear that the subject officer knows, or with the exercise of reasonable care should know, that it is being given to influence some action in which he is expected to participate in his official capacity.
We wish to emphasize that our opinion in matters of this type depends particularly upon the facts of each situation. You have provided no indication that the subject officer solicited this benefit or may have used his official position in order to obtain it. In addition, you have provided no indication that the managers of the project who made the offer might be involved in any other activity which might require closer police scrutiny.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject police officer to accept the offer of an apartment, rent free, for himself and his family.