Arkansas prohibits off-duty state troopers from working security at college athletic events
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—The Arkansas State Police (ASP) last week instituted what it believes is a first-of-its-kind policy governing how its officers provide security for college athletic programs.
The new policy, which went into effect Aug. 3, prohibits state troopers from being hired as security officers for college athletic programs when they're off duty. Instead, state troopers can only provide security while they are on duty and paid their regular state salary. It also clarifies that troopers can no longer accept free tickets to athletic events or other gifts, per state ethics laws.
Previously, the ASP didn't have a policy specific to college and university athletic event assignments, Bill Saddler, ASP's public affairs officer, told Security Director News.
It also appears to be the first policy of its kind in the country, Saddler said. "In checking with other state police agencies of similar size in states with statutory requirements, our policy development team could find no other state with such a policy, which addressed not only the law enforcement duties, but also the applicable state ethics laws," Saddler told SDN.
A controversy spurred the policy's creation. Earlier this year, it was revealed that a state police captain who provided security for the University of Arkansas athletic program had accepted free tickets to games and a Sugar Bowl ring worth a total of $4,085 over a two-year period, according to the Arkansas News. The controversy also involved the university's football coach, Bobby Petrino, who ultimately was fired for related infractions. "Following the Petrino incident there was a consensus among the department commanders that a policy was necessary," Saddler told SDN.
The policy may well be unique, Paul Verrecchia, chief of police at the College of Charleston and past president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, told SDN. Almost all law enforcement agencies have policies prohibiting officers from receiving gifts, he said, but the fact this policy is specific to college and university sporting events means "it may very well be the first of its kind." It also appears "very restrictive," he said.
The policy also requires state troopers to wear the ASP uniform and participate in no activity "that may present an appearance of being a part of the athletic team."