Police experts said moonlighting is common for officers but rare for a police chief because it could put the person who most represents public safety in a city in a compromising position.
If, for example, a player were to get into trouble with the law, it could appear as if the team was paying the chief to win special treatment, experts said.
Spears said he doesn't think his outside employment, which is done on his own time, poses a conflict of interest, and he rejected any notion that it could lead to preferential treatment for a Colts player.
He said he has worked at Colts games since 2000, though he does not expect to continue doing so after he becomes chief of the merged city and county department next year.
"My first responsibility is to the Indianapolis Police Department and always has been and always will be," said Spears, a 25-year veteran. "Should anybody conduct themselves in a way that is illegal, nothing will be swept under the carpet. I pride myself on my integrity."
Mayor Bart Peterson and Public Safety Director Earl Morgan said they didn't see any problem with Spears or other top officers following guidelines for outside employment.
Peterson said he has confidence in Spears' judgment and integrity.
"It's the same opportunity available to every other officer," Peterson said. "The key point is that he does it on his own time."
Abdul Hakim-Shabazz was discussing this very topic this morning on his WXNT radio show when a person called in who identified himself as a local law enforcement officer. The caller recounted a physicial altercation a very prominent Colts player had recently with a law enforcement officer following a traffic accident. The caller said that the Colts player had contacted Spears directly on his cell phone a short time after the altercation complaining about the police officer's conduct. How many people do you know who have a direct line to the police chief?
It seems to me that the concern for potential conflicts, such as those arising when players get into trouble with the law, extends to the team's owner as well. Some of you may recall the WTHR investigation from several years ago which uncovered years of prescription drug abuse by Colts owner Jim Irsay. While Roger Harvey's report back at the time reported that both federal and local law enforcement officials were investigating Irsay, the matter was quietly dropped without any charges against Irsay. Irsay has made very large campaign contributions to area politicians of both political parties over the years, including Mayor Bart Peterson.