The FBI is looking into accusations of intimidation and price-fixing by Seattle PD officers during their lucrative off-duty side jobs.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said on Tuesday that all allegations were referred to both the FBI and SPD’s internal investigations unit, but would not comment further.
“We immediately took action,” the chief said, “no stone unturned.”
The allegations stem from the founders of a security company that staffs off-duty officers looking to make extra cash working security/traffic control at many of the rainy city’s construction sites. The company, however, is in direct competition with both a well-established agency and another, which is backed by the local police union.
The newer company claims they have been blackballed by the police union, as well as discovering many potential clients are reluctant to anger the police by selecting the new company.
Caught in the crossfire of the three-way feud between private companies is the Seattle Police, who have been struggling to keep track of which officers are part-timing in what locations.
In addition, many building associations are worried that price-fixing may become an issue as the myriad of security companies go to war with each other.
Last summer, a departing member of the Police’s internal affairs board -identified as Pierce Murphy- called the matter “a ticking time bomb,” with unregulated, poorly managed free-for-all side-businesses working against each other.
“This is all about money,” Murphy said.
According to The Seattle Times, the practices -which are steeped in police union contracts- raise ethical questions concerning conflict-of-interest, liability concerns and workload exhaustion.