'Turf War' Among Law Enforcement For Secondary Jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A battle is brewing among law enforcement agencies in middle Tennessee.

A NewsChannel 5 investigation reveals some nearby sheriffs have blasted Metro for its hard line on secondary employment.

Deputies from surrounding counties often come into Nashville to work for private security companies.

They do jobs like direct traffic around construction projects.

But the Metro Police Department has filed multiple complaints with the state claiming some of the security companies are violating state law.

The department claims security companies sometimes hire unqualified people.

Seventy three year old Linda Rowe couldn't believe how she was treated.

"He said 'see this badge? I'll arrest you if you don't go where I tell you to go,'" Rowe said.

After sitting in traffic with her sick husband, she asked a man she thought was a Metro Police officer if they could turn left, but she says the officer became hostile.

"He had on a uniform with a badge," Rowe said.

"He grabbed the badge and stuck it out and said, 'I can arrest you' and he's actually jumping up and down in a rage," Rowe said.

It turns out he was not with Metro Police.

He worked for  private security company.

Metro police Captain David Corman has filed several complaints against private security companies with the state department that oversees them.

"If you are not doing your job correctly then you are putting everyone at risk," Corman said.

Corman took pictures of a security officer asleep in his car near an interstate construction project last June.
He also photographed a woman in the front seat and showed the car's lights were flashing.

"That's concerning to us not only for public safety but also for our professional image," Corman said.

"People see red and blue lights on a police car and assume it's some law enforcement official who is now asleep in his car," Corman continued.

William Guthoerl is Chief Operating Officer of EM Protective Services which hired the man who fell asleep.
"It's misconduct. It's unprofessional," Guthoerl said.

"The matter was addressed and it was corrected and the employee was dealt with," Guthoerl continued.

He said Metro is using a few bad examples to intimidate and ultimately take work from private security companies.
"I would say there is definitely a turf war," Gutheorl said.

Most private security companies hire deputies from surrounding counties who are eager to earn extra money.

"These guys are out here working for supplemental income because in rural counties they don't pay near what a Metro Police Officer makes," Guthoerl said.

He said taking pictures of security officers and filing repeated complaints is crossing a line.

"I believe it is an active intimidation," Guthoerl said.

Metro has insisted that the department be notified in advance before any outside law enforcement officer works a security job in Nashville -- something that hasn't gone over well with local sheriffs.

In May White County Sheriff Odie Shoupe sent an e-mail to Corman.

It stated "You tell Corman to kiss my Ass. He has no authority over any of my officers and they will continue to work for security companies in Nashville."

Captain Corman said he heard about the e-mail. "I didn't respond to that because I think it's below our professional standard, and I didn't know what kind of day he was having,"

Cheatham County's sheriff also sent an e-mail to Metro last May telling the department to basically back off.
He said his off duty officers are just trying "to provide for their families."

"The situation has progressed to where now it is causing conflicts with surrounding agencies," Guthoerl said.
Guthoerl claims Metro wants to take all the work for its own off duty officers.

Corman oversees the office that provides off duty Metro Police officers to work certain jobs.

He denies there is a "turf war," but said he is concerned when security companies use auxiliary officers or people with no arrest powers.

He said there is no effort to shut out good private security companies.

"Quite frankly there is a lot of work to be done here. So if they are indeed police officers and they meet the criteria, then I don't think we have a problem with them being here," Corman said.

But both sides agree someone like Linda Rowe shouldn't be threatened with arrest.

"I was shocked, absolutely shocked, because I'm not a criminal," Rowe said.

The Tennessee Attorney General recently ruled that sheriff's don't have to notify Metro every time their officers plan to work in Nashville.

But the private security companies do need to let Metro know when they use outside officers.

The complaints from both sides continue to add up at the state with no ruling for either side.

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