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private-public sector

Police chief moonlights as casino security director. Is this a conflict of interest?

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Those in the security industry know that it often pays better to work in the private sector than the public. According to the 2010 U.S. Security Salary Survey conducted by ASIS International, those who work in the private sector tend to have higher average salaries than those who work in the government sector. However, those employed by the government have higher median salaries. “This seems to indicate if you start your career in the government sector you’ll start out at a higher rate, but transitioning to the private sector will garner higher compensation,” said Mike Moran, special projects editor for ASIS International.

But you can't really do both at the same time, now can you? I just read an interesting article from the Courier-Post in New Jersey that the Medford Police Chief has been moonlighting as the security director of a Pennsylvania casino. First of all, I'm pretty sure being a chief of police is a fairly time consuming job that requires being available at all hours (am I naive on this one?). Well, apparently others agree with me:

Eric Mason, president of the New Jersey State Association of Police Chiefs, said a police chief's job is a 24/7 position and one is never truly off duty or on vacation. Mason said he hasn't heard of a police chief working a second job in his 33 years in law enforcement but would be surprised if Canale is the first.

But, others think that law enforcement officers, just like the average Joe, should be able to make money working other jobs if they want to:

Ray Hayducka, second vice president of the police chiefs association, said he works as a part-time law consultant and teacher -- about 20 hours per month -- and police chiefs should be able to take advantage of money-making opportunities like other citizens.

But, there's a big difference between working as a police officer and a teacher, in my opinion. If there's an emergency, leaving a bunch of college kids isn't really such a big deal, but leaving one's security duties at a casino (or any facility, really) seems like it could jeopardize the safety and security of individuals.

And, something the article only touched on, was the conflict of interest involved in holding these two positions. Granted, his two gigs are in different states so he doesn't have jurisdictional powers at his casino job, but I think this certainly begs the question of priorities. How are citizens of Medford, who foot the bill for his salary, know they have the complete dedication of their highest ranking police official? If I lived there, I would certainly be irked by this.

Plus, the man makes $139,000 as a police chief and is slated for another $10,000 pay increase in January, according to the article. I'm not aware what the cost of living is in New Jersey or how much the average police chief makes, but that seems like a good chunk of change, doesn't it? Frankly, I'm bothered by this. Are you?