Pa. State Police Ordered To Disclose Moonlighting
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania State Police must release most of its records about work that its employees perform while they are off-duty, the state Office of Open Records has ruled.
The office concluded in Wednesday’s decision that the state police erred in withholding information about employee moonlighting in response to a right-to-know request filed in May by The Associated Press.
The regulatory agency gave the state police 30 days to release all requests, decisions and other records involving outside work by employees.
State police spokesman Jack Lewis said the department had not yet received a copy of the decision. The department has 30 days to decide whether to appeal to Commonwealth Court.
Earlier this year, a moonlighting state trooper was connected to the off-field carousing and legal problems of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Steelers star sometimes used the trooper friend as his personal assistant.
Office of Open Records appeals officer Lucinda Glinn said in her decision that state police may legally black out home addresses of law-enforcement officers and Social Security numbers for all employees. But she said state police failed to establish that information about outside jobs is protected by exemptions in the state Right-to- Know Law.
Glinn also rejected claims by the state police and the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association that disclosing the location and approximate start and stop times of outside work should be withheld for security reasons.
The state police and the troopers’ union had provided examples of officers being attacked while performing off-duty jobs, but they failed to show that releasing the information the AP was seeking would lead to any similar attacks, Glinn said.
In March, a college student accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom of a Georgia bar. The local prosecutor decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute, but the investigation earned Roethlisberger a six-game suspension from the NFL.
Trooper Ed Joyner was with Roethlisberger on the night of the alleged attack. The state police are investigating his actions and have barred him from working for Roethlisberger.
In an interview among dozens of audio and video recordings from the Georgia investigation, Joyner indicated he was worried about his superiors finding out about his involvement. He asked a Georgia investigator to let him know before she ran his name or Social Security number.
“It is very imperative that if anything is going southward, you end up running that, you have to call me before you do that,’’ he said in the March 13 interview. “You’ve got to because what will happen is it will flag. As soon as you run any trooper’s name, it flags.’’
“You know, my department, I don’t really have to let them know unless I’m the subject of (an investigation),’’ Joyner said. “As a witness, there’s no reason to. But once they run your name, they’re like, ‘If you’re a witness, what the hell are they running your name for?’’’