LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State troopers who provide security for college athletic teams cannot accept free tickets or other gifts from the sports programs if their value would exceed limits set by state law, under an Arkansas State Police policy unveiled Friday.
The agency's first-ever limitations on gifts come in response to a trooper's assisting former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino following a motorcycle crash last April and the subsequent revelation that the trooper accepted gifts from the Razorbacks athletic program. The Arkansas Ethics Commission recommended a letter of caution for Capt. Jeffrey Lance King after he asked it to review his actions.
The policy was distributed to officers Friday. Under it, troopers must follow state ethics laws regarding gifts and can provide security only when they are on-duty. They may be paid only their regular state wage and any token of appreciation must not be excessive.
Arkansas law generally forbids public employees, officials and other state workers from accepting gifts valued at more than $100.
Petrino called King after crashing a motorcycle during an outing on the Pig Trail scenic route with a woman who worked in the athletic department. King took Petrino to a hospital and in the ensuing days revealed that he had received $3,111 worth of gifts from the Razorbacks program, including game tickets and a Sugar Bowl ring worth $225. King reported himself to the state Ethics Commission, which proposed a letter of caution to the trooper.
State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said that, until Friday, the agency did not have a formal policy on how troopers should handle requests to provide security for university sports teams and coaches. According to the document, when a request comes in, troop commanders should ensure an officer can work a game without interfering with other police operations. On game days, the troopers can wear their uniforms and must provide security only, avoiding actions that would make it appear they were part of the team.
They also cannot use police cruisers to transport team members unless there is a need to provide extra security or emergency transport.
The state police director must authorize trips out of state. Department vehicles cannot travel out of state, and any travel expenses, including meals and lodging, must be paid by the school. When Arkansas is at a road game, any trooper accompanying the team cannot wear a team logo.
The University of Arkansas said it would comment on the policy later Friday.
The school fired Petrino after discovering he had given money to the woman on his motorcycle and helped her obtain a university job.
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