Off Duty, PA Troopers Have Variety Of Occupations
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A Pennsylvania state trooper who isn’t patrolling the highways or trying to catch criminals might also be found farming, driving a truck or nursing the sick back to health.
A variety of moonlighting occupations were listed in about 4,500 pages of redacted “supplemental employment request’’ forms filed by troopers and nonuniformed employees over the past six years.
The documents include requests to teach at more than 40 institutions of higher learning, from online schools and community colleges to some of the state’s most elite colleges and universities.
The other major category was coaching or refereeing, from popular sports such as football and basketball to boxing, cycling, cheerleading, lacrosse and horsemanship.
The records indicate troopers teach law-enforcement classes and do private work that mirrors their state duties, including fingerprint or polygraph analysis, accident reconstruction and firearms training.
The disclosure of a redacted set of the forms to The Associated Press followed a 16-month legal battle resolved by a Commonwealth Court ruling that concluded they are public records under the Right-to- Know Law.
Questions about troopers’ supplemental employment arose last year when an off-duty trooper working as a personal assistant to Ben Roethlisberger was with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback the night of his encounter with a college student inside a Milledgeville, Ga., nightclub that led to sexual assault allegations. Roethlisberger, who denied the allegations, was not charged.
The state police subsequently revoked its permission for Trooper Ed Joyner to work for Roethlisberger, duties that included tipping drivers and pilots, arranging for private shopping, grass cutting, car detailing, and coordinating home-improvement and landscaping projects.
The state police employ 4,320 uniformed members of all ranks, paying them an average salary of nearly $83,000. Last year, the enlisted personnel earned more than $576 million, including $24.5 million in overtime.
Multiple troopers listed side jobs as landlord, emergency medical technician, funeral director, union representative and author. At least six sought work as musicians.
Three were lawyers in private practice, limited to noncriminal matters. One of them declined to comment, while the other two did not return phone messages.
A trooper got the OK to make and sell his own sausage, another maple syrup. Others sought to work as prom adviser, yoga teacher, motivational speaker, youth counselor, Amway salesman, chiropractor, genealogist, scoreboard operator, occupational therapist, stump grinder, electrician, pastor, tax preparer or operator of a Zamboni, the machine that refreshes the ice surface during hockey games.
One supplementary employment request allowed a trooper to sell guns under a federal firearms dealer license.
Several displayed a sense of humor with their business names: Smokey Bear BBQ, for a Hamburg-based trooper; McDough Enterprises, for a pretzel bakery in Hummelstown; Stevioke, a DJ business run by an officer named Steven; and Custard Makes a Stand Inc.
The side work can generate the money a young couple might need to make ends meet or simply grow from a hobby or interest, said Sgt. Bruce Edwards, who heads the troopers’ union.
“If your whole life is your job, you have nothing on the outside, whether you’re a state trooper or other policeman, it’s not good when you’re working and it’s definitely not good when you retire,’’ Edwards said. “You need releases and outlets.’’
The department allowed Trooper Gerald L. Hocker Jr. to work as a part-time district aide to state Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, for about three months in 2009. A spokesman for Marsico said Hocker helped the representative at a time when he was recovering from surgery by staffing meetings and traveling with him.
Hocker filed moonlighting requests to work at a football official for the Big 10, the United Football League and the NFL, and to help coach high school junior-varsity baseball and seventh-grade basketball. He did not respond to messages.
Trooper Jake Andolina worked on three motion pictures last year during his spare time as a detective with the fire marshal unit in Greensburg. His was among at least nine applications for acting, modeling, producing or being a movie extra.
Andolina has dabbled in producing and writing, and is developing a couple film projects as he hopes to stay in the field once he retires from the department.
“Last year I did a lot of work,’’ said Andolina, 42. “This year I haven’t done anything – it’s just the way the opportunities come about.’’
State police regulations allow employees to moonlight as long as they comply with regulations that require getting permission ahead of time, choosing work that does not demean the department’s image or involve a boss who has a known criminal reputation, and, for uniformed employees, not taking jobs where liquor is served.
They cannot act as security guards in jobs likely to involve “investigative, arrest or prosecutive action.’’
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong’’ about troopers moonlighting, said Kutztown University criminal justice professor Gary Cordner, a former police chief in Maryland who wrote a textbook on police administration. “In fact, there’s probably pretty big positives for it for the Pennsylvania State Police. If their troopers are teaching classes, working with kids, working as EMTs when they’re not working for the state police, they’re doing things that make the state police look good.’’
State police supervisors signed off on the vast majority of the requests released to the AP, but regularly attached specific conditions, telling a photographer he may not rebut state police testimony in court, and cautioning a pilot to avoid risky flights. The department has no record of demoting or firing anyone as a result of an off-duty job.
The biggest question is whether the work will demean the department’s image, said Maj. Martin L. Henry III, who directs the bureau of records and identification.
“If that’s not the case, then is it work that’s certainly going to interfere with someone’s duties or assignments?
If both of those answers are no, then that’s probably something that can be approved,’’ Henry said.
Applications that were rejected included a Coudersport trooper who wanted to help trucking companies complete road permits, because it was considered a conflict with his job duties, and a Skippack sergeant who put in for security-type work.
A forensic services trooper in Washington sought work in 2007 as a deputy coroner, proposing an agreement with the coroner in which he would not be involved in deaths that require a police investigation. His supervisor responded that all questionable deaths involve police, and the request was denied.