CEO 88-9 -- February 4, 1988
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY CHIEF OF POLICE TEACHING DEFENSIVE DRIVING COURSE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest exists under Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, where a city chief of police teaches a defensive driving course for an area vocational-technical center. The chief of police does not teach the course for a business entity or agency which is regulated by, or doing business with, his agency. Also, he and his staff do not make referrals to this course.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, a city chief of police, teach a defensive driving course for an area vocational-technical center?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are the Chief of Police for the North Port Police Department. You further advise that you teach a defensive driving course for the Sarasota Vocational Technical Center, which comprises a part of the Sarasota District School System. This course is recognized under Section 318.14(9)(a), Florida Statutes, which allows a person cited for an infraction under that section to attend a driver improvement course approved by the State in lieu of a civil penalty or court appearance. If an individual elects to take this course, adjudication is withheld and points are not assessed against that individual's driver license. In a telephone conversation with our staff you advised that you teach this course when you are off-duty and are compensated by the School Board at an hourly rate. You received the training necessary to teach the course from the National Safety Council.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
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), Florida Statutes (1987).]
This provision prohibits a public officer or employee from having an employment or contractual relationship with a business entity or any agency which is doing business with or is regulated by his agency, and from having any employment or contractual relationship which would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or which would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties.
It is clear that the School District is not regulated by your agency. Nor is the Police Department doing business with the School District. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that the Vocational Technical Center offers police training courses, but that no contractual agreements exist between the Department and the School District concerning these courses.
We also are of the opinion that your outside employment does not create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict or impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties. In this respect, we note that you are not in a position to refer individuals to the class which you teach. You advised that although Department police officers write tickets for traffic violations, they do not refer individuals to a particular course. These officers can make an attachment to a station which informs a person that such a course is available and lists locations at which the course is given. Such courses are available throughout the State and are offered at three locations in Sarasota County.
Further, it does not appear that by teaching the course you would be disclosing or using information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of your official position for your personal gain or benefit, as prohibited by Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where you, the Chief of Police, teach a defensive driving course for an area vocational-technical center.