1/4/2012Washington: City Clears Itself of Traffic Camera Corruption
Investigation finds no violation of the letter of the law in unseemly red light camera dealings in Lynnwood, Washington.
Lynnwood, Washington on Wednesday released the results of an ethics investigation into the dealings between the city police department and red light camera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS). The Everett Daily Herald newspaper was first to put the spotlight on Lynnwood Police Deputy Chief Karen Manser and Sergeant Wayne "Kawika" Davis sought to ingratiate themselves with the photo ticketing firm in the apparent hopes of landing a lucrative job in return for their service (view emails).
"I knew that other former police officers worked for the company and I wanted to inquire about the kinds of jobs they held," Manser explained in a December 14 memo to the city council. "It is not a secret that I have been looking for and applied for positions with other cities and entities over the last few years."
Had ATS secured lucrative contract opportunities in return for promises of providing future employment, the police officers would be in violation of the city's ethics policy. The investigation found no violation of the letter of the law. Though Lynnwood's police chief wanted to handle the matter with an internal investigation, Mayor Don Gough insisted on paying $21,170 to local attorney Patty Eakes to conduct a more independent look at what happened.
Manser was responsible for overseeing police contracts, including the ATS contract that was to expire in November. Davis was in charge of day-to-day operations. Both attended an ATS seminar in Arizona which included playing golf and other diversions. Davis described it as a "wonderful time." ATS project manager Ray Pedrosa told Eakes that cops asking for jobs was "very typical." Manser did not have the skills ATS was looking for, so Pedrosa told her to contact the company's human resources department.
"While she did not violate the express terms of the code, she nonetheless created an appearance of conflict by inquiring about possible employment with ATS while simultaneously communicating with ATS about the contract extension," Eakes concluded. "Clearly, she utilized her contact with ATS through her LPD employment to make contact with an ATS employee who could provide her with information about positions that she may have wanted to pursue at ATS... the inquiry demonstrated questionable judgment by creating an appearance of conflict that raised questions about whether the contract extension negotiation was fair and unbiased."
Eakes stated the ethics code requires avoiding the appearance of impropriety and that Manser arguably failed to meet that standard.
Davis went out of his way to use his position as the head of the North American Motor Officers Association to advertise on behalf of ATS and to help the company lobby the state legislature. Eakes concluded this conduct did not violate the ethics code.
"He kept management advised of his activities and his efforts relating to defeating negative photo enforcement legislation," Eakes wrote. "There is no evidence that he received any personal benefit or gain from his activities."
A copy of the report is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.