Documents: Police didn't trust Ralls 911 dispatchers
Mon, 04 Nov 2013 22:57:02 GMT —
Ralls County police and law enforcement became so wary of possible leaks to criminal suspects from 911 dispatchers that officers routinely avoided contacting dispatchers to get routine criminal history and motor vehicle information.
A new wave of investigative documents from a special prosecutor's Ralls County 911 investigation reveal deeper institutional issues, threats and more details about the cover-up of a gun discharge inside the dispatch center.
The search warrant returns obtained Monday by KHQA through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that despite being brought to her attention on numerous occasions, former 911 director Laurie Means failed to report leaks from her employees to people who were the subjects of ongoing criminal investigations.
â??It was so commonplace that any investigations with sensitive information, the officers would bypass the 911 center regarding criminal histories or motor vehicle checks to avoid being released,â?? the report from Ralls County Deputy Richard Adair said.
Means also kept little or no records of the complaints brought to her about dispatchers Kara Klise and Jared LaForce on file, according to the documents.
â??At no times were the matters referred back to law enforcement for criminal investigations,â?? Adair's Aug. 23 report says. â??In one incident there was a superficial internal investigation, and in another, Director Means warned the employee who reported the criminal activity to 'keep her mouth shut.'â??
The reports are part of the ongoing investigation that resulted in Means' July resignation and the board's decision in August to temporarily shutter the Ralls County 911 dispatch center and layoff all of its employees.
New London Police Chief Brad Sanders told Means in January 2011 that he learned that dispatcher Kara Klise sent out text messages to release information about warrants. A letter discovered during the July 2 search of the 911 building showed that Means did a cursory internal investigation and noted that it was the second time that Klise was suspected of releasing information.
LaForce was accused in two incidents.
On Oct. 31, 2011 he's accused of releasing information regarding a felony warrant for his brother Michael Christopher Welch. Ralls 911 employee Janis Caldwell told Means about the incident. There was no information about the complaint in LaForce's personnel file.
Another officer made a similar complaint about LaForce on May 18, 2012. New London police officer Chris Flynn said he documented LaForce reaching out to his half brother in connection with a criminal investigation.
LaForce, Means and former dispatcher Steven McLaine are also accused of trying to cover up a shooting that took place in the early morning of April 11, 2012 inside the 911 center building.
Police confiscated sections of drywall and insulation. An examination with a metal detector revealed a metal fragment of a jacketed bullet buried inside, according to court documents.
Means documented the incident that day saying that LaForce got angry and threw his phone and struck a mirror, according to the documents. Means issued a false reprimand for the incident.
However, several dispatchers and employees said that they viewed video surveillance footage of the morning in question. They saw the mirror shatter and LaForce and McLaine clean up the area. Means patched a hole in the drywall.
LaForce was later seen leaving the building with a black bag he used to carry his guns, according to the paperwork. Several employees previous complained about LaForce bringing his gun to work.
LaForce was later put in charge of rewiring the dispatch center's surveillance system. The video in question was deleted, according to court documents.
Caldwell complained to two Ralls County 911 board members and told investigators that she was scheduled to work the night of the regular meeting once Means learned what she planned to tell the board.
Caldwell later gave a statement to the board via speakerphone during her dispatching shift.
Current Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie, a former Ralls County 911 board member, also appears in the investigative documents.
In a document found in her office, Means accused Dinwiddie of pressuring dispatcher Caldwell to appear before the 911 board. The pressure, according to Means, led to Caldwell's eventual resignation from the 911 dispatch center, according to documents. Caldwell later told investigators that she left because Means stopped putting her on the schedules.
Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Talley Kendrick was appointed to oversee the investigation.
There have been no criminal charges filed, but an investigating officer recommended that Means, LaForce and McLaine face criminal charges.