CEO 82-36 -- May 20, 1982
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
MUNICIPAL POLICE OFFICER PRIVATELY CONDUCTING POLYGRAPH EXAMINATIONS OUTSIDE OF CITY LIMITS
To: Mr. Lee Reese, Chief of Police, City of Lake Worth
No prohibited conflict of interest exists where a municipal police officer privately conducts polygraph examinations outside the city limits for businesses located and operated outside the city without obtaining prior written waiver of confidentiality. In CEO 82-6, a prohibited conflict of interest was found where a municipal officer conducted polygraph examinations privately for banks located within the city, unless a prior written waiver of confidentiality were obtained from the client in accordance with Section 493.32, Florida Statutes. With respect to information concerning crimes outside the territorial jurisdiction of a police officer, it appears that the police officer has no greater obligation to notify law enforcement agencies than does any private citizen. Therefore, no conflict of interest would be created were a police officer to obtain information concerning a crime while privately conducting a polygraph examination outside the jurisdiction of his police department. CEO 79-23 is referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a municipal police officer privately conducts polygraph examinations outside the city limits for businesses located and operated outside the city without obtaining prior written waivers of confidentiality?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In a previous opinion, CEO 82-6, we advised in response to an inquiry from the City of Lake Worth that a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a municipal police officer to conduct polygraph examinations privately for banks located within the City, unless a prior written waiver of confidentiality were obtained from the client in accordance with Section 493.32, Florida Statutes. You now question whether it would be necessary to obtain such a waiver of confidentiality if a municipal officer were to operate a polygraph examination service outside the City limits for a client which does not have affiliations within the City limits.
In CEO 79-23, we advised that no prohibited conflict of interest would exist when a city police officer owns and manages a private security business licensed under Chapter 493, Florida Statutes, which is located and operated outside of the city. In that opinion, we found that when outside of his municipality, a city police officer generally is treated as being off-duty, with no greater authority or responsibility than the ordinary citizen. Therefore, the confidentiality requirements imposed on managers and employees of security businesses would not be inconsistent with a police officer's performance of his public duties when that security business is located and does business only outside of the officer's territorial jurisdiction.
We are of the opinion that this principle is equally applicable to the question you have posed. In your letter of inquiry you contend that if an officer is outside his jurisdiction operating a polygraph examination and receives information concerning a crime, he is obligated as a police officer to notify the local police within that jurisdiction regarding the matter. However, we have found no legal authority from which we can conclude that an off-duty police officer, when outside his jurisdiction, has the affirmative obligation to notify the local law enforcement agency of any information he may obtain concerning criminal activity. Rather, it appears his obligation would be no greater than that of the ordinary citizen. See CEO 79-23.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a municipal police officer to operate a polygraph examination service outside the City limits for clients located and operating outside of the City limits.