IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa State Patrol commander started a consulting firm prior to receiving mandatory approval for outside work and is using photos of himself at government-funded training events to promote the fledgling venture, a review by The Associated Press shows.
Capt. Ken Clary, who oversees dozens of troopers who patrol northeastern Iowa, is a founding partner of the year-old Brinkley, Clary and Thomas LLC, which advertises law enforcement litigation and recruitment services. His partners are Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley and Barry Thomas, chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff's Office in Ames.
The company, nicknamed BCAT Consulting, advertises that it can be hired to provide services such as expert testimony on policing and jailing, such as the use of force, arrests, and internal affairs investigations. It also markets recruitment services to help candidates become certified law enforcement officers. One partner says it has been raising its profile but hasn't yet landed any clients.
Iowa Department of Public Safety, which includes the State Patrol, requires employees to seek approval from Department Commissioner Roxann Ryan "prior to engaging in" any off-duty employment. The policy also bans any employment that assists the defense in a criminal case or either side in a civil lawsuit.
In addition, state law bars employees from using any public resources or "other evidences of office or employment" that would give themselves an advantage over others in outside employment.
The corporation's website shows a photo of Clary at the FBI National Academy, noting that he was one of 225 law enforcement executives picked to attend the "prestigious training." The state spent $1,867.44 sending Clary to the 10-week program, which concluded in September and was also subsidized by the FBI, according to records obtained through an open records request.
Another photo shows Clary at a Department of Justice event in Washington, noting that he was chosen as a research scholar.
The patrol said in a statement that Clary's outside employment "is not in conflict" with his departmental duties, saying the work was limited to research on post-traumatic stress facing officers. The patrol later added that Clary hadn't violated any policies but that he would be required to seek additional approvals "if he wishes to expand the duties he will perform." The patrol said the use of the photos wasn't prohibited.
BCAT Consulting was registered on Sept. 20, 2016, according to Iowa Secretary of State filings. The next month, Clary emailed a copy of his resume for "marketing" purposes from his state account to his new BCAT Consulting email address.
Clary applied for approval for outside employment in December 2016, only after he was advised to do so by the commissioner, records show.
But his application and the approval received from Ryan do not mention the corporation's advertised services. Instead, they said Clary would be "compensated for conducting research" for the national Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science program, which had chosen him as a scholar.
Clary told his bosses in an email his work would be "important, timely and possibly ground-breaking research" into the impact that routine exposure to traumatic incidents such as fatal car crashes and crime scenes can have on officers.
But BCAT Consulting's website makes no mention of the research. One of its partners, Thomas, told the AP he's not aware of any such work being conducted through the firm.
"We haven't had any discussions about the PTSD piece of things," Thomas said, adding that Clary "has a lot of different things going on."
Clary, who started with the patrol in 1994 and has risen through the ranks, declined comment when reached on his cell phone Tuesday.
Thomas said the company envisions it will defend municipalities that are sued over allegations of excessive force and recently advertised at the Iowa League of Cities conference. He said helping young people decide whether and how to get into policing would also be a focus for BCAT, which advertises a $300 "Bringing Home The Badge" mentoring program.
When visitors to BCAT's website ask for more information, they're shown a photo of the three partners with instructions on how to receive a quote.
Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald and Mason City administrator Brent Trout said they had approved requests from Thomas and Brinkley to participate in the firm.