No Protection for Police Whistle Blowers, Ct'd...

Rogers, Minnesota police officers Mike Miller and Mike Hayen are under investigation after an incident last July in which Hayen allegedly used potentially deadly force against a motorcyclist who was fleeing as Miller was pursuing him for speeding. A witness reported seeing Hayen pull his squad car into the road at the last minute to block the motorcyclist as he was riding at a high rate of speed, causing the motorcyclist to crash. The witness says he attempted to report what he saw but neither Hayen nor Miller took a statement from him or ever called him back. Their report doesn't mention Hayen moving his car into the motorcyclist's path, or the presence of the witness.

We know all of this because a month later, the witness casually mentioned the incident to Sgt. Joleen Pitts at a police department open house. Alarmed, Pitts relayed the story to Rogers Police Chief Jeff Luther. Luther interviewed the witness, then opened an investigation into Hayen and Miller. In January, Luther testified at a closed city council meeting, where he argued that Hayen and Miller should be fired. Hayen was put on administrative leave, but the city took no further action.

Against Hayen or Miller, that is. A month later, the city did put Luther and Pitts on administrative leave, for "undisclosed reasons". 

The city's actions floored Diane Karnitz, a Brooklyn Park detective who has known Luther and Pitts for much of their careers.

"There's nobody that has more integrity than either of them as far as I'm concerned," she said. Others in law enforcement who know them "are just shaking their heads and knowing that this is an injustice, and amazed that something like that can happen in 2011."

The previous Rogers City Council recruited Luther in late 2008 after he left a long unblemished BCA career, said Mike Murphy, operations supervisor at North Memorial Ambulance who has known Luther for 35 years.

"They were looking for a chief that would break away from small-town, good-old-boy, pat-on-the-back philosophy of the past" and run the department more professionally, he said.

Pitts has a 20-year career with a "spotless disciplinary history," said her attorney, Chris Wachtler. She worked on Champlin's force before joining the Rogers department in 2005. Last year she received a meritorious award for successfully dealing with a suicidal person without any use of force.

Three former City Council members who hired Luther say charges against him and Pitts are "trumped up" and retaliation for "doing the right thing" in investigating Hayen and Miller...

Here's the kicker: Miller is godfather to the daughter of Rogers Mayor Jason Grimm.

Oh wait. Hang on a sec. That's not the kicker. Here's the kicker: While Luther is on suspension, Miller has been named acting police chief.

More on the appalling lack of protection for police whistle blowers here.

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  • ||

    Last year she received a meritorious award for successfully dealing with a suicidal person without any use of force.

    I...don't know what to say here. There is an award for this? Do they normally use force...against a suicidal person?!?

  • Abdul||

    Sure, a taser to the nuts and they forget all about their depression.

  • Ice Nine||

    A taser to the forehead and their depression is cured.

  • DNS||

    A taser to the forehead and their depression is cured.

    So cops are now part of the new professional health care scheme performing electroconvulsive therapy as needed?

  • Ice Nine||

    Gold star for you.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    They're lawyers and doctors and engineers, all at once and without the need for any college. That's why they're better than us.

  • Abdul||

    It's just as effective as state hospitalization, but much lower cost. What's not to like?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Well you don't know all the facts - I could envision a situation in which a person is not only suicidal, but also presenting a threat to others - e.g., waving a gun around (you know, the "suicide by cop" routine).

  • mr simple||

    Well, suicide is clearly resisting arrest, impeding an investigation and failure to comply with a lawful order, just to name a few laws broken, and the only way to deal with such a disrespectful perp
    Is to beat him, preferably after he's handcuffed.

    "Shoot him before he goes over the ledge!"

    "You're not taking those pills on my watch!"(unleashes telescoping baton)

  • sasob||

    ...just to name a few laws broken,...

    You left out destruction of State property, depriving the People of future taxes, etc.

  • Mensan||

    "... depriving the People of future taxes..."

    That's what I was thinking. The commerce clause gives the government the power to regulate suicide.

  • Gus||

    "... depriving the People of future taxes..."

    If choosing not to purchase medical insurance impacts interstate commerce, then choosing not to carry a pregnancy to term impacts Federal tax revenues.

    The government that can force you to buy health insurance is a government that can force you to carry your baby to term.

    So if the SCOTUS rules that the medical insurance mandate is constitutional, then by the same logic, so is outlawing abortion.

    Me today. You tomorrow.

  • sasob||

    a government that can force you to carry your baby to term.

    Or maybe it's a government that can force you become pregnant to begin with. Well not force exactly - just create "dis-incentives" for not becoming pregnant. Like increased income taxes or something. Oh, wait a minute...

  • Pope Jimbo||

    What if the state decides that my kidney or liver (OK, that organ is probably not worth it) is worth more if it was given to someone like Steve Jobs?

    After all, if he had my kidney he would end up paying a lot more in taxes than my worthless ass.

    Isn't that where Kelo is taking us?

  • Brett L||

    The states may care, the Feds would probably rather take any death tax and the liability writeoff.

  • ||

    You do realize that grabbing a "jumper" and dragging them away from the ledge is force, right?

  • ||

    But allowing him to jump creates a mess for the clean-up crew and a job opening at the company where he was employed. JOBS CREATED/SAVED!!!

  • Lord Obama||

    Jump? How about a little push? My new jobs initiative. Broken window anyone? Actually by the time I'm finished with the economy he won't need pushing either.

  • ||

    Re: Epi

    There have been a couple of notable incidents in the metro area of Mpls-St. Paul (Rogers is a northern 'burb) of the police using guns in cases where other means may have had better results, one of which was a middle-aged woman in psychosis who had a kitchen knife (or scissors?) and was cornered in her apartment. The cops blew her away. It changed the way the police deal with psychotics. I think it was followed by another mentally-ill person gettin' smoked by the cops , and that accelerated the process of police-mental illness encounters.

  • ||

    While Pitts is on suspension, Miller has been named acting police chief.

    You're not fooling anyone with this gratuitously lifted piece from a Shamalyan movie, Radley.

  • Applederry||

    Don't mean to be a drive-by copy editor, but you must be a bit flustered by this one. You've got a couple strange sentences here.

    Hayen allegedly used potentially deadly force against a motorcyclist who was fleeing was Miller was pursuing him for speeding.

    We know all of this because a month later, the witness later casually mentioned the incident to Sgt. Joleen Pitts at a police department open house.

  • Radley Balko||

    Thanks. Fixed those.

    Feel free to send me an invoice!

  • ChicagoSucks||

    Your daily kicks in the pants should be payment enough.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Commentators editing for them is part of Reason's evil capitalist scheme to get profits off the working wan.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    working wan man

    Both joe'z law and R C'z law.

  • MNG||

    People ask why police unions are useful.

    Here you go people. Unions don't just protect bad teachers and cops from being punished and fired, they protect good ones too.

  • Joe M||

    Huh??? I can only guess this was an imitator, I hope.

  • MNG||

    Union rules could offer some due process to the two whistleblowers which could afford some measure of protection from arbitrary punishment.

  • ||

    The tradeoff's not worth it. It would be better off with everything out in the open and a bigger story. You can't run a department half corrupt and half honest; the corruption will run rampant anyway. Better to force the corruption to make itself plainly visible by firing them; they wouldn't get away with "unexplained reasons" in that case.

    But I suppose you are ever the conservative, MNG, arguing against change and against the possibility of evolution. I guess you fear change so much that you want to prevent any chance of the makeup of police departments altering.

  • MNG||

    How cute JT, I guess you've never seen my repeated call for more and stronger civilian review boards?

  • MNG||

    Also JT, as a longtime defender of Clarence Thomas as Defender of The Freedom, what about his stance on protecting government whistleblowers who try to protect citizens from overzealous law enforcement?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garcetti_v._Ceballos

  • ||

    Oooh, so the union is protecting the whistleblowers here.

    But not, I suppose, the two bad apples. And I don't suppose the union's long-term interest in reducing disciplinary actions against cops to zero has anything, anything at all, to do with a culture and organization that is hostile to whisteblowers and protective of bad apples.

    Nope. The union, once again, is the only party with clean hands.

  • cynical||

    Are you fucking serious? Typically, the union is organizing the persecution of the whistleblowers. They always stand for the lowest common denominator, whether it's useless teachers in rubber rooms or dirty, thuggish cops. That's just what unions are.

  • Federal Dog||

    What proof do you have that they are not unionized?

  • ||

    I'm not seeing anything about the actions of police union at all, other than the implied actions of allowing lying goons like Hayen and Miller to remain gainfully employed.

  • ||

    "Unions don't just protect bad teachers and cops from being punished and fired"

    Good to see you on record that unions protect bad teachers and cops.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    See, sometimes the men we execute are guilty, too!

  • MNG||

    Sure, just like most procedural rights protect the innocent and the guilty, the wicked and the good...

  • cynical||

    Yes, like omerta protects both innocent and guilty mafiosi.

  • ||

    The union would have protected Hayen and Miller. So how would a union have helped here? The whistleblowers never would have made a case against them if they were union brothers, but the witness would be in the hospital right now.

  • ||

    The police in Rogers, MN are already represented by a union.

  • Pip||

    Back in the 60's and 70's Rogers was a small town about 20 miles north of Minneapolis. It was just a four block Main street town with a truckstop, surrounded by cornfields. In the 80's, it was swallowed up by suburban sprawl. But it sounds as if the power remained concentrated in the old small town guard.

  • Pip||

    BTW, WHERE THE FUCK IS DUNPHY???

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Donut break.

  • ||

    Except that the union will come out full force against the "good" cops who snitched on their brothers in blue. It also remains to be seen if both of these "good" cops were considered management and not covered by the union. I would guess the chief at least is management.

  • ||

    There is no such thing as snithcing on a government employee.

  • My Balls||

    Ow!

  • Matrix||

    This sounds like the plot of a bad movie... except that it's real. I just love corruption. Don't you?

  • ||

    I'm waiting for the followup where the unnamed witness dies in a highspeed chase with authorities.

    "The suspect evaded police for over 5 minutes, on his Schwinn 10-speed, before...."

  • ||

    In January, Luther testified at a closed city council meeting, where he argued that Hayen and Miller should be fired.

    Credit where credit is due; good for him. Although arresting them and asking the DA to file attempted murder charges would have been even better.

  • ||

    Unions don't just protect bad teachers and cops from being punished and fired, they protect good ones too.

    One of these days, you should ask your music teacher to teach you another song note.

  • Jack On||

    There's an extremely attractive supervisor here at work in a different dept., and I can't help but wonder, if we were cops, would I be able to sexually harrass her with virtually no repercussions? Cause that would be awesome (not from a libertarian rights standpoint, but more from a, "I got to fondle a hot chick" standpoint).

    And maybe if I played my cards right, I could get a paid administrative vacation out of it, also.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    As long as you make sure to keep yelling "Stop resisting!"

  • Jack On||

    ^^ Spot on, VGO, I almost forgot about that crucial aspect of it. I think I have a real case with the union now.

  • Federal Dog||

    Don't forget to yell "PEACEFUL PROTEST!!!!!" during the beating too.

    Just a tip from your union "friends."

  • not dunphy||

    Well, let's see all the facts before we rush to judgment. They're doing an investigation - let's just see what comes out of that.

    Police aren't experts in everything, you know. In the heat of the moment, perhaps they missed getting those statements.

    I'm sure the internal investigation will clear up everything.

    /idiot

  • mr lizard||

    The Balko Ball Kick (BBK), now available on Mondays.

  • sasob||

    The mind just balks at such a phrase.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    We should redefine 'balks' on HnR, like tow the lion.

  • Almanian||

    Yep, new meaning to the term "Balkonization".

    "My voice was lower until I got Balkonized reading all those H&R postings from Radley...."

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I like it, although I'm not sure if it's better as balkonized or balkanized...

  • ||

    I vote "o" to match his name.

  • Almanian||

    agree - and so as to not confuse it with the other balkanization, which would still be in use

  • ||

    And all the good cops, the 99% who hate that a few bad eggs besmirch all their reputations...they are all vocally demanding that Pitts and Luther be re-instated...right ? amirite ??

  • Scott||

    Mayor Grimm and the city has placed a gag order on city employees. They cannot talk about or opine about this case.

  • Restoras||

    Where's Tony to tell us this is a good use of taxpayer dollars? No need to bring these rascals down to size by limiting their pensions?

  • Tony Spoofer||

    This is a good use of taxpayer dollars. The department needs to hire more of these officers. The public is really getting a lot for their money.

  • sasob||

    Here's the kicker: Miller is godfather to the daughter of Rogers Mayor Jason Grimm.

    Sounds like a pretty grim place to live.

  • ||

    Miller has been named acting police chief.

    The new broom sweeps clean.

    If I were that "witness" I would bugger off ASAP.

  • ||

    Sure, just like most procedural rights protect the innocent and the guilty, the wicked and the good...

    Better ten bad cops keep their jobs than one good cop get fired, eh, MNG?

  • ||

    Small towns are terrible about this. Police don't have to follow any rules as long as they look after those few politicians that got them their jobs. Killing a few minor perps...well that's just gravy. Of course then you look at a city like New Orleans and see that writ large.

  • ||

    Speaking of police whistleblowers, and axe murders, check out this tale of the London Met:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2.....NTCMP=SRCH

  • ||

    On the subject of whistle blowers, I'm a little surprised that Reason doesn't appear to have anything to say on the "resignation" of P.J. Crowley after he criticized the government's treatment of Bradley Manning.

  • zoltan||

    You could read the morning links...

  • hmm||

    They aren't experts in morality...

    This is a war, sacrifices have to be made.

  • DNS||

    This is a war, sacrifices have to be made.

    Mistakes were made. Records maligned. Eggs...omelets.

  • hmm||

    I may have found a portion of the problem.

    http://abc.daytonsnewssource.c.....03.shtml?1

  • Bradley||

    My balls have been destroyed. Nothing remains.

  • kbolino||

    Speed is a rate. "Rate of speed" is acceleration.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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