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County Executive John R. Leopold and Council Chairman Cathleen Vitale Ask Ethics Board to Exempt Police Officers from Secondary Employment Prohibition

Annapolis (July 18, 2008)-County Executive John R. Leopold today sent a letter to the County Ethics Commission to request an exemption for County police officers to obtain secondary employment in establishments that serve alcohol. Council Chairman Cathleen Vitale joined the County Executive in signing the letter. This action is in response to an opinion by the State Ethics Commission recommending that the County request an exemption rather than exempting officers legislatively.

"I trust our officers and have full confidence that they bring their dedication to enforcing the law to any secondary employment they may have," County Executive Leopold said. "I have worked closely with the County Council on this issue to see that our officers are not constrained in their ability to make a living. I also believe that we cannot limit the County’s ability to recruit and retain law enforcement officers by prohibiting where they can and cannot work if they have a second job. This is an important issue for our police officers, County Council, and my administration and I remain hopeful that this will finally be settled to the benefit of County officers and business owners who want to employ off-duty police in their establishments."

Last year, County Executive Leopold and the County Council worked together to pass legislation that would allow officers to seek secondary employment at establishments that serve alcohol. The legislation amended the County ethics code to allow for the secondary employment exemption.

According to the State of Maryland, when ethics codes are changed at the County level, the County must ask the State Ethics Commission to review the change.

Today County Executive Leopold received an opinion by the State Ethics Commission that said the county law is not permissible because the state board found that it created a legislative exemption for police officers to work in businesses that serve alcohol instead of asking for a County Ethics Commission exemption.

As a result of the State Ethics Commission’s opinion, County Executive Leopold and Council Chairman Vitale sent the attached letter to the County Ethics Commission requesting the exemption be provided to officers by the commission.


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