A Tacoma police officer hired as a security guard at the Port of Tacoma, the Tacoma Mall and for Pierce Transit collected paychecks from all four agencies for overlapping work hours, Pierce County prosecutors allege.
Robert Luke, 55, was charged last month with second-degree theft. He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.
He could not be reached for comment Friday and no defense attorney was listed in court documents, which gave this account:
Luke was not obligated to report his side security jobs to the Police Department but told the port he would retire before going to work there full time in September.
When port officials found out he was still working as a police officer, an investigation was launched to account for his work hours.
It found Luke claimed 38 overlapping hours at both agencies from February 2013 to September 2015. Some days the overlapping time was as little as 15 minutes; other days, it was as high as 6 ½ hours.
“Since he could not be working at both jobs at the same time he was getting paid by one and not actually doing the work,” according to the court documents.
Police estimate the department paid Luke $2,133.61 for the overlapping hours.
Investigators did not tally the occasions when Luke claimed to have finished work at the port at 7 a.m. and started work for the Police Department at the same time.
That would not have been possible because it’s a nine-minute drive from the port and would have required Luke to change uniforms, the records show.
Luke also worked security for the Tacoma Mall and Pierce Transit during his time with the Police Department. Time cards show another 26 hours of overlapping amounting to $1,412.67 in pay.
Luke was hired by the Police Department in November 1995 and worked as a patrol officer and community liaison officer.
He received a community partnership award in 2003 from the state Department of Corrections for attacking crime. The FBI honored him in 2006 for helping clean up the Hilltop neighborhood by arresting suspected gang members and drug dealers.
In 2014, Luke was disciplined for conduct unbecoming of an officer. In February 2015, he was disciplined for insubordination and unsatisfactory work performance.
Details on those incidents were not available Friday.
Luke began working as a security guard for the port in October 2011 and was called in as needed. He was hired there full time on Sept. 1, 2015, with the understanding he retire from the Police Department.
When port officials discovered Luke was still working as a police officer a month later, they confronted him and called the department to confirm his continued employment there.
Not telling the port he was still employed elsewhere violated a conflict of interest policy at the port, spokeswoman Tara Mattina said.
When Luke retired from the Police Department on Oct. 1 he was “not in good standing” because he didn’t give two weeks’ notice, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
The port placed him on administrative leave Oct. 22. He was fired Feb. 3.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653