Advisory Opinion No. 96-9

Re: Colonel Edmond S. Culhane, Jr.


The Superintendent of the State Police requests an advisory opinion as to whether an employee may serve as a voluntary member of the Town of South Kingstown Transportation Commission when one of the responsibilities of the Commission will be to "review State transportation policy."


The Rhode Island Code of Ethics does not prohibit an employee of the State Police from serving as a voluntary member of the Town of South Kingstown Transportation Commission. Section 36-14-5(b), R.I. Gen. Laws, provides that no person subject to the Code of Ethics shall accept other employment which would impair his or her independence of judgment as to his or her official duties. Here, the mere participation by a member of the State Police on a local transportation commission does not in and of itself impair the independence of judgment of the member of the State Police, nor does the fact that he or she may participate in reviews of State transportation policy.

The member of the State Police is presumed to understand that regardless of any policy or position adopted by the Transportation Commission regarding State transportation policy, he or she has taken an oath to uphold and enforce State laws and must abide by that oath. If a particular issue confronts the member of the State Police as a member of the Transportation Commission which he or she feels may compromise or effect the requirements of that oath he or she should exercise the notice and recusal provisions of the Code of Ethics (R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-6) and/or seek further guidance from this Commission.


Dual Public Roles