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Kauaʻi Board of Ethics considering opinion on second jobs for police officers

Kauaʻi Police Department

The County of Kauai’s Board of Ethics is deciding whether or not it's ethical for a sworn police officer to also work as a security guard.

After a small influx of requests for outside employment as guards, Kauaʻi Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck requested the advisory opinion from the board, citing his interpretation of state and county laws and union contracts.

“The collective bargaining agreement and our department policy does allow it, but it says that it must follow the law, the policy and the code of ethics,” Raybuck said at a recent meeting.

State law specifically requires a security guard to have a license with the Board of Private Detectives and Security, which is under Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 463, but state law also says sworn and reserve law enforcement officers cannot obtain that type of license.

Raybuck also noted the union contract allows for this type of employment, with approval. In a letter to the Board of Ethics, Raybuck says department policy requires officers to take proper police action when faced with criminal activity while they’re on or off duty. He made the case that if a sworn officer is a security guard, it's likely they'll be identifying illegal activity.

“Should this commission determine that it is a conflict of interest for a police officer to be employed as a security guard, then that would, in essence, prohibit me from being able to approve their outside employment,” he said.

Depending on how the board votes, the county may need to revise its policies, and requesters may seek further action.

“As a consequence, those individuals do have a grievance process,” Raybuck noted, saying that the process would include the county's Police Commission who would then review and make a final decision.

Policies differ across the state, with some more specific than others.

Honolulu and Maui police department policies state an officer may be employed by firms offering security, but there are limitations. For example, they cannot have a financial interest in the firm or provide bodyguard services.

An HPD spokesperson said there are members who have approved outside employment with security firms.

It's unclear if officers on Kauaʻi have been employed by security firms in the past, Raybuck says.

“I cannot find an official record of anyone who had approved outside employment as a security guard,” Raybuck said. “I have heard anecdotally that in years past that some individuals may have engaged in that activity.”

The Kauaʻi Board of Ethics reconvenes in September.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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