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Friday, April 28, 2017

Select Members of the Forest Lake Police Department Punished for Producing Controversial Video

Disclaimer: This is a report of what has recently become public information for a series of incidents that occurred within the Forest Lake Police Department with some of it's officers.  This information was provided to us following a recent data practice request and all information is available to the public. In no way is this reporting of the news taking sides against the hard working members of the FLPD. Again, the actions were of a few and in no way represents the department as a whole. 

Numerous grievance arbitrations were held against a small number of the Forest Lake Police Department who decided to produce a controversial video while working on the job. The actions occurred in 2010 and were only recently released for the public.  This resulted in punishments including suspension and demotion.

screen shot from the public data video
The video is a 'Star Wars' themed video depicting the police union as the 'rebel alliance' (the good side) and the city council as the evil empire seeking to crush the resistance. Shown in the form of Darth Vadar choking a police officer in the video. The ruling against the very select few of FLPD stated the actions were of neglect of duty, misuse of department equipment including "drunk goggles among numerous other concerns while on the public payroll.
Link to video which is public data:

Discipline actions included:

Scott Graff: 7-day suspension for having spent at least 5.75 hours creating a video that had nothing to do with police work.

Patrick Ferguson:  5-day suspension for having spend 5.7 hours of duty time for purely personal reasons, neglect of duty and misuse of department equipment.  The arbitrator said it was lenient and well within the bounds of reasonableness to give the suspension.

Justin Boughton:  Received written reprimand.

3 additional officers (noted at the time as being the newest):  Received coaching letters for their actions.

Sean Lafferty:  Demotion from Sergeant to Patrol Officer for having participated in actions listed above while responsible for their supervision.  He did deny initiating and running an illegal gambling hockey pool out of the break room. 

Additional notes described these actions:

Patrol Officer John Glad - Placed a photo of a naked toddler urinating into a cereal bowl and titled it "Peeing in your Wheaties."

Officer Graff - Had a photo displayed of him wearing a pope hat.

Photos of officers stuck in mud were used as screen-savers.

Squad garage was decorated with a unicorn wearing moose antlers, a stuffed moose, a liquor sign, other signs, "peeing in your Wheaties" picture, a hanging stuffed monkey and a set of "stop sticks" nailed to the wall in the garage after being used in a high-speed chase which damaged cars from other law enforcement agencies vehicles.

On the positive side, evidence submitted showed that 2-3 officers turned in their colleagues to Sgt. Richard Petersen and 3 other officers turned in their colleagues to Sgt. Greg Weiss (now Captain).  Some of these members were unnamed in the public data request, but we thank each of them for their service - even when it compromised their own.

Data released:
BMS Decision-Graff.pdf
BMS Ferguson.pdf
Protective Order (11-22-10) Redacted 4-2017.pdf
Sean Lafferty Arbitration Award_Redacted 4-2017.pdf