With investigators looking into possible wrongdoing by moonlighting cops, Gaylord Entertainment Center has temporarily banned five Metro Police officers from working off-duty at the downtown arena. These five officersincluding the head of the Police Department’s Internal Security Divisionused to work off-duty for the private security firm ASAP at the arena. All are under investigation by a joint task force of the Metro Police Department and the Office of the District Attorney General.
“We simply did not want to be associated with the controversy surrounding these officers,” said David Spencer, director of event services at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
The task force was set up after the Nashville Scene published allegations of possible wrongdoing by the officers in connection with their off-duty work.
One of the banned officers is Maj. Sam Sloss, who has run the Police Department’s Internal Security Division since 1989. The others are Sgt. Mark Garafola, who ran ASAP before it folded, and detectives Mike Smith, Archie Spain, and Charles Hagar.
Meanwhile, Gaylord Entertainment Center’s managers say they have instituted a new system of “checks and balances” to ensure the arena isn’t overbilled for work performed by moonlighting policemen.
The Scene has learned that the arena received a refund check for $137 from ASAP this month. The check was sent after the controversial private security firm acknowledged submitting a bill to the arena for work allegedly peformed by an off-duty policeman, Hagar, when he was not, in fact, even at the facility.
In correspondence with the arena, ASAP termed the overbilling a “bookkeeping error.” Arena officials said they accepted this explanation.
ASAP folded last month after the Scene raised questions about whether the firm’s senior employee, Garafola, had engaged in activities that were banned by police regulations. (See “Above the Law,” Oct. 28, 1999)
The arena’s refund check was signed by Garafola’s wife, Patricia. Metro regulations forbid a police officer or his spouse from having a direct or indirect interest in a private security firm that brokers the employment of off-duty police officers.
Garafola declined comment through his attorney, David Raybin. Sloss, Smith, Spain, and Hagar have declined numerous requests for interviews.
The five officers on the arena’s blacklist may be reinstated to work off-duty at the downtown facility if they are cleared by the task force of any impropriety, Spencer said.
ASAP was replaced at the arena in early December by Advanced Protective Services, a Nashville-based private security firm that is now supplying off-duty cops to work security at the arena.
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