SEATTLE – The FBI is investigating claims that Seattle police officers enabled by their union may have engaged in intimidation and price fixing while working off-duty jobs.
Blucadia, which matches police officers seeking off-duty work with customers, claimed that the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild blackballed the company, the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.
The Olympia-based startup is a competitor of Seattle’s Finest and the union-overseen Seattle Security, which both employ the officers they hire out. Blucadia officials also claimed that potential clients were reluctant to use the company due to fears of angering police.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said the department “immediately took action,” and she referred the matter to the FBI and the department’s Office of Police Accountability. FBI officials said they do not acknowledge investigations.
Rob McDermott, the chief executive officer for Blucadia, said on Tuesday that he has spoken with the FBI and has provided information to the police department’s accountability office.
McDermott said he has attempted to work with the police union, but the guild sent a memo to its members questioning the company’s business model. He also said that Kevin Stuckey, president of the guild, made a profanity-laced phone call earlier this year after the company attempted to set up a meeting with union officials.
Phone calls made by the Seattle Times that asked for comment from Stuckey were not returned Tuesday.
Rod Kauffman, the executive director of the Seattle King County Building Owners and Managers Association, said several association members who employ off-duty officers have voiced concerns about possible rate hikes, price fixing and excessive fees.
Raleigh Evans, president of Seattle’s Finest, said the company hasn’t raised rates in three years, and he dismissed Blucadia’s claims. The company requires that officers be paid for a minimum of four hours, and it also charges fees to cover insurance, businesses expenses and taxes. He noted that there are some officers “who negotiate and manage their own contracts” for the jobs they work.
While Evans said the competition between Seattle’s Finest and Seattle Security is friendly, he said his company doesn’t have ties to the police union and “there is no collusion.”
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