CEO 85-24 -- April 4, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SHERIFF'S OFFICE CHIEF OF STAFF OWNING INTEREST IN PRIVATE SECURITY BUSINESS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the chief of staff for a county sheriff's office to own stock in and be a director of a private security business licensed under Chapter 493, Florida Statutes, doing business in another county. With respect to clients of the business which are located outside of the county but which have franchises or offices in the county, a written waiver of confidentiality under Section 493.32, Florida Statutes, should be obtained with respect to any services which would be provided in the county or which would affect franchises or offices within the county. CEO's 78-82, 79-23, 82-6 and 82-36 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, the chief of staff for a county sheriff's office, to own stock in and be a director of a private security business primarily doing business in another county?
Under the conditions noted below, your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you have advised that you will be serving as Chief of Staff for the Broward County Sheriff's Office. In that capacity, you will be second in command of the office, in charge of all functions except those directly supervised by the Sheriff.
You also have advised that you and three other individuals contemplate establishing a business in the field of protective services which would provide not only security guard services but also security analysis, commercial security consultations, pre- employment screening, and other related services. The four individuals who would form the corporation have backgrounds in law enforcement, the legal profession, and the field of electronics, and have obtained the necessary licenses for the operation of the company required under Chapter 493, Florida Statutes. You have advised that you contemplate being a director and shareholder of the company and that you will not be providing any personal services as part of the company's work, primarily because you do not have the time to do so while fulfilling your law enforcement responsibilities. Finally, you have advised that the company intends to do business primarily in Dade County and counties other than Broward County. However, you advise that it is possible that a business with which your company would do business may be located in Dade County but have franchises or offices in Broward County.
In prior opinions concerning a law enforcement officer's outside employment in security work our primary concern has been the confidentiality imposed on private security businesses licensed under Chapter 493, Florida Statutes. In CEO 78-82 we advised that a police officer should not own and manage a private security business licensed under Chapter 493 because of the confidentiality imposed by Section 493.19, Florida Statutes (now Section 493.32, Florida Statutes), and because of the officer's access to confidential information through his department. However, we advised that the officer could own stock in the business provided that the business is not licensed under his qualifications, so that he would not be subject to the confidentiality restriction of Chapter 493. In CEO 79-23 we advised that a police officer could own and manage a private security business located and doing business outside of his jurisdiction. In CEO 82-36 we advised that a police officer could be involved in a polygraph examination business licensed under Chapter 493 and operated outside of the officer's territorial jurisdiction. Finally, in CEO 82-6 we advised that a police officer could own and operate a private polygraph examination service licensed under Chapter 493 and operated within the officer's jurisdiction provided that a written waiver of confidentiality was obtained from the officer's client, as provided for by Section 493.32, Florida Statutes.
In accordance with these opinions, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created by virtue of your involvement in the security business as a director and stockholder were your corporation to do business with clients and customers located outside of Broward County. With respect to those clients which have franchises or offices in Broward County, we are of the opinion that a written waiver of confidentiality as provided for by Section 493.32, Florida Statutes, should be obtained with respect to any services which would be provided in Broward County or which would affect Broward County franchises or offices.