Another report of a scandal involving Newport police officers.
On Wednesday it was reported the city's police department has had guns, drugs and cash go missing from its evidence locker, according to a Washington County Sheriff's Office memo that also revealed mismanagement of sexual assault evidence and other issues.
And Thursday brought more controversy to the Twin Cities suburb, with an arbitration report between the city and a law enforcement union revealing more goings on behind the scenes at City Hall – also involving city police.
According to The Forum News Service, secret cameras were installed in the office of City Administrator Deb Hill and Public Works Director Bruce Hansen as Hill believed someone was rummaging in their offices, with cash reportedly taken from Hansen's.
As explained in the Bureau of Mediation Services' arbitration award, the footage showed city patrol Officer Joel Muellner entering Hill's locked office after hours in June 2014 along with a custodian. Muellner also admitted going into Hansen's office three times earlier that year, which he claimed was unlocked, saying he wanted "to look out windows at turkeys in the woods."
What's more, the report also reveals another, unnamed police officer was caught on camera having a sexual encounter in Hansen's office while on duty – for which he received a two day suspension for "improper use of break time." The union argued that meant Muellner's longer punishment was unfair.
KSTP reports the findings were revealed following Muellner, a 16-year veteran, requesting the mediation after he was suspended without pay for 10 days.
The Law Enforcement Labor Services Union argued the secret surveillance "violated stature" and as such Muellner's discipline should be thrown out, the TV station notes.
However, the arbitrator disagreed, saying the evidence relating to the misconduct charge against him was "clear and convincing," though his suspension was reduced to 5 days, the award document shows.
The South Washington County Bulletin says the arbitration report follows several behind-closed-doors meetings of the City Council toward the end of last year to discuss the complaints against the two officers, which were treated as "policy violations" rather than anything criminal in nature.