MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sources tell WCCO-TV that two Minneapolis police officers facing discipline after an incident in Green Bay will tell their side of the story to investigators next week.
In June, SWAT officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell were visiting Green Bay off-duty. A police report from that night says one of the officers punched a man, gave the middle finger to Green Bay cops, and used derogatory remarks when referring to their boss.
Still, the investigation isn’t over.
“When it’s an open case, that’s all we can say,” said Deputy Chief Travis Glampe.
But we do know both officers have been collecting their full-time paychecks, or about $60,000 combined between the two of them, who have been on home assignment ever since.
“It would be nice to have a much quicker process both for the public, the department and certainly the officers,” Glampe said.
He said what happens in internal affairs investigations needs to protect the employee and the process, and that what may seem clear must be checked out just like it would be in any criminal case.
He gave an example, comparing a simple and a complex case. He showed a very thin folder saying it was a case with one witness and one police officer involved.
But, with something like that happened in Wisconsin, there is a much larger file, since the investigation involves dozens of witness interviews, evidence collection, and it took place all in another state.
“In a case like this, it’s not uncommon to take many months to go through,” Glampe said.
“We have to be thorough or the case simply is going to fall apart,” he added.
As a former police chief and public safety consultant, Don Davis isn’t surprised it’s taken Minneapolis this long, and he believes it’s better to pay Thole and Powell now than to have the city punished later for doing something wrong.
“You can’t go on hearsay,” he said. “You can’t go on he said or she said. It must be documented information.”
Investigators are working to eliminate any questions. Careers, after all, are on the line.
“At the end, when we’re dealing with a major incident, the facts should speak for themselves,” Glampe said.
Next Tuesday, Thole and Powell will get a chance to present their side of the story before a three person police panel, sources say.
That panel will then make a recommendation to Police Chief Janee Harteau about whether or not they should be fired. But, in the end it will be up to the chief to decide what to do.