The FBI is investigating allegations that Seattle police officers may have participated in intimidation and price-fixing with the help of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild while working off-duty jobs directing traffic at construction sites and parking garages, reports the Seattle Times.
As Seattle experiences one of the biggest construction booms in history, the off-duty jobs at work sites and new garages represent a lucrative source of income.
The allegations come from Blucadia, a software provider similar to Uber that matches officers seeking off-duty work with customers. Blucadia matches the officers without officially employing them. Blucadia’s competitors are Seattle Security, which is affiliated with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG), and Seattle’s Finest. Both companies do employ the officers they hire out to customers.
Blucadia officials claim they’ve been “blackballed by SPOG,” and cursed at by its president, Kevin Stuckey, and have run up against hesitation among potential business clients afraid of angering police, concerned they won’t show up for traffic control or emergency calls, reports the Seattle Times.
Tracking off-duty work by Seattle police has been a challenge for years that has been traditionally handled by the police union. But when concerns about the number of hours officers might be working and a significant overtime budget became too much, the work was parceled out mostly to Seattle Security and Seattle’s Finest.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole confirmed with the Seattle Times that she referred the allegations to the FBI and the department’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA). She said any further comment would be inappropriate.