Arizona law could soon change the limits of what police officers are allowed to do in their free time.
It was the off-duty work of a Tolleson police officer that prompted lawmakers to propose Senate Bill 1020. The bill would make it illegal for active or reserve police officers to also work as private investigators.
Tolleson police Cmndr. Wayne Booher was caught on tape offering his services as a private investigator.
"We've been doing it for years now," he's heard saying on the recording. "We do a variety of investigations. We do private investigations, we do unarmed security and armed security. We do police officers. We do surveillance."
The person who made the recording can be heard asking Booher, "You're licensed by the state, right?" Booher answers, "Yeah."
Booher apparently did apply for a private investigator's license through the Arizona Department of Public Safety -- which is the licensing agency.
DPS in turn opened an investigation into Booher's extracurricular activities. Operating as a P.I. without a license is a class one misdemeanor. DPS said the investigation was closed and it did not punish Booher. DPS has still not provided CBS 5 Investigates with a copy of the report and refused to discuss the case on camera.
Private investigator Justin Yentis sees a potential conflict for a police officer who moonlights as a P.I.
"A police officer has access to certain information that a P.I. does not have as readily available," said Yentis. "For example, MVD (Motor Vehicle Department) information, case histories, criminal backgrounds of certain individuals. A P.I. has to request that information via the public records law or FOIA. Whereas a member of law enforcement can generally get that information with a phone call."
Booher says he's done nothing wrong.
"We were running a private investigations business doing private investigations business, subcontracting the work out," said Booher. "We were advertising that, but we hadn't done any work because we had just started the company."
But that's not what Booher said in that secret recording..
"This company has been in business for three years," Booher said on the recording. "I personally have done surveillance for 21 years. I know it inside and out."
CBS 5 Investigates asked Booher about that recording.
"I was set up," he said. "Certainly the person that called us and wanted us to do some work for him misrepresented himself."
Either way, if Senate Bill 1020 gets through the House of Representatives and is signed by the governor, police officers will not be allowed to also work as private investigators.
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