MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Mankato hit-and-run victim says a man who approached him after an accident in May knew exactly what to do, but he ran away instead.

That man was an off-duty patrol officer.

Dan Sweeney’s parked car was damaged when another vehicle crashed into a retaining wall near his home on May 27. The accident occurred around 2:20 a.m. and shook the driver awake.

According to the Mankato Free Press, the driver left the scene, but later returned and approached Sweeney and his roommates, who were examining the situation.

The man then picked up his detached bumper, with the license plate still attached, and started running up a nearby hill.

It wasn’t until about two weeks later that an officer called Sweeney to tell him the driver was off-duty patrol officer Kenneth Conrad Baker.

Baker admitted to being at three downtown bars before the accident, but an alcohol test wasn’t administered because it was roughly ten hours later when officers spoke with him.

He was charged with careless driving; a hit-and-run charge was dismissed in a plea agreement. Baker is now on paid administrative leave and received a stay of imposition, a $350 fine and was ordered to pay restitution.

Comments (22)
  1. em0886 says:

    Wow!! what an awesome example!! I highly respect law enforcement but when they act like this and are no better than the people they are trying to protect us from it makes it quite difficult to have respect! It’s shocking how many officers disregard the law themselves but the minute they put a badge on it’s a power trip and they act as if they are better. This coming from someone that has been on the other side of the law and seen bounty hunters using drugs…and a man married to a trooper that would take the drugs she had taken from the people she was arresting!!!

  2. MNCOPPER says:

    I agree, em0886. Terrible example set here by this officer. And you’re right; this makes us all look bad. But I know what’s going to be posted on here shortly: Many will be calling for his termination or resignation. For those making such statements, let me ask you: would you lose your job if you’d perpetrated this crime? While I agree this officer made a stupid decision, but the decision was in no way an abuse of his power and he was technically not a government agent when the violation occurred. Should he be reprimanded? Certainly. Terminated? No way.

    1. PLEEEEEEEASE says:

      Yup you are correct … Commit a crime or two, Not investigated by the same standards as a regular citizen (no breathalizer) and put on paid administrative leave (vacation).
      You are right, I wouldn’t be treated that way at work or by the police. .

      1. MNCOPPER says:

        How was this not investigated by the same standards? You think civilians don’t get drunk, hit things, run off, then come back when they’re sober? Guess again. I’ve personally investigated many cases like this. And they get the same deal this cop got. We all know he was drinking…probably excessively. Fortunately for this officer, he’s afforded the same 4th Ammendment rights that you are. The courts and his employers can’t take legal action for a violation they can’t prove.

    2. Jake says:

      I completely disagree. The police have no credibility when they behave this way, and this wasn’t just getting pulled over with a .09 BAC. He committed multiple crimes, and it appears he received a pretty sweet deal by being able to drop the hit-and-run, for which the prosecution had all it needed for conviction. What if someone had been injured on the other side of the retaining wall? He took off without concern for anyone else and then made the conscious decision to return for the bumper to try to avoid being caught.

      MNCopper, would you make the same argument about an accountant caught stealing money from a non-profit that he helps on his own time? I mean, if it wasn’t done at work, how could his employer hold that against him?

      1. MNCOPPER says:

        That’s apples and oranges. An accountant who was CAUGHT stealing should be punished. This off-duty cop wasn’t CAUGHT doing anything. Like I stated above, nobody can prove he was driving drunk, though I think we can assume there’s a good possibility he was. However, luckily for him (and all of us) the government can’t take legal action because someone THINKS we did something wrong. The government needs to PROVE it. As far as credibility, I conceded to that earlier. This makes us all look bad.

        1. qryptik1 says:

          Leaving the scene of an accident?

        2. Jake says:

          Well, we have definitely shown you’re a cop and not a lawyer. He was definitely “caught doing [something]” or he wouldn’t have been charged and allowed to entert a guilty plea. It’s apples to apples in that a fundamental element of trust has been harmed by actions outside of work. I’m disappointed you can’t understand that.

          An accountant must be have integrity to be trusted with handling a company’s resources. A police officer must be committed to adhering to the law to be trusted by the public with the authority to enforce the law. Again, this wasn’t a traffic slip up or even a simple DWI. This guy admits to drinking, damages property, flees, and then returns to cover his tracks. If that’s his level of integrity, how can he be trusted to testify truthfully about suspects he has arrested?

          I feal MNCopper defends this behavior in a self-serving effort at keeping us from holding police officers to a high standard, and that is a shame.

    3. wrong says:

      What a joke. Are you saying police shouldn’t be held to a higher standard? They sure the heck should given their position of authority; carrying guns no less. I’m willing to bet he was wasted (well above .04) and carrying a firearm. He sure the heck should be fired. Let him work security in the private sector, not a guberment job.

      1. ??? says:

        guberment………..that is a new one and if he was off duty he would not have his gun on him. not excusing his behavior

        1. Wrong says:

          Yeah, because 90% of off duty officers don’t carry their backup gun. Riiiight.

  3. Hejlena says:

    Well said, Mncopper. When a licensed social worker, healthcare provider, or mental health provider is involved in a situation like this, they are typically required to submit to rigorous monitoring to ensure they are healthy enough to continue to serve. this includes up to three years of random drug and alcohol testing. I’m curious if your profession has anything like this in place.

  4. anonymous says:

    Wow. If a cop is in the right I would defend their actions. This situation is a prime example of why so much distrust, dislike, and disrepect for officers by private citizens.
    I know if I committed a crime of this magnitude I would no longer be employed in my profession. I would not get free paid time off and a slap on the wrist. Police should be held just as accountable as they hold us. Off duty or on duty. They set an example in all aspects of their lives. I know if I pulled this type of behavior the lost job as mentioned above would be the least of my concerns. I would face jail time.

    1. Another MN Cop says:

      I personally am tired of police officers doing things like this and not losing their job. Yes, I feel we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. We know first hand the tragedies caused by such behavior by anyone else, we should not do it too. Yes, every one makes mistakes, but just like an airline pilot who gets fired for drinking and driving, so should police officers. We should know better…

      1. wrong says:

        I wish there were more like you out there.

        Is this cop a bad person; probably not. Did he do a terrible thing, absolutely without question. He absolutely should lose his position of authority. I will not judge his character, but I will judge his actions and lack of responsibility.

      2. Jake says:

        It is refreshing to see a perspective like yours. I wouldn’t go so far as to say any officer who has a lapse of judgment and gets pulled over with a .09 BAC should lose his or her job. That doesn’t necessarily show a bad intent. But when they damage property, flee, and return to remove the evidence, that seems to warrant a separation of the individual from law enforcement. I am interested in how this guy was charged. If he turned himself in, I might reconsider the necessity to terminate. If he was tracked down, he should be gone immediately.

        Trustworthy police are a primary reason our country is prosperous compared to other places where corruption prevails. We need to be ever vigilant to prevent us from losing this characteristic.

      3. Yet another MN Cop says:

        I too am tired of bad judgement by off duty officers. We took an oath. Regardless of what you believe we are held to higher standards and I feel we should embrace it. I know mistakes are made, and they are made by everyone. But, like was said before we know the tragedies that arise from such behavior. He knows better. All cops know better, and thats why I feel cases like this should end in termination!!

    2. Dean says:

      Jail time? Doubtful. I work in the courts. There’s no way a prosecutor would press for jail time. And I highly doubt your employer would terminate you for a hit & run crash and/or careless driving…unless your job directly relates to driving or your driver’s license. Then they could possibly make a case.

  5. DE says:

    Every one who works in the court wants this cop back on the street fast. Now when one of them (or their kids) gets pulled over by this crooked cop they will get let off the hook. Win win for the Judge!

  6. Rock County says:

    Please go read the Mankato Free Press article on their website. We had to endure the incompetence and unprofessional conduct of this boob for years in Rock County before he left for Mankato. Our sympathies to the residents of Mankato

  7. Jake says:

    I believe that I would probably lose my job if I did something like this. Not sure, but probably, and I am not a gov’t worker in any way. Unfortunately, this cop knows the law better than the average citizen, so he knows how to minimize the charges and how to cover it up. I believe that he should be looking for a career in a new profession, before he does something really stupid. The general population expects our law enforcement officers to use better judgement, on duty and OFF. If he has run afoul of the law previously, this should be his last LE job. He doesn’t have the proper mindset or self-discipline necessary to hold such a position, and his actions cast all cops in a bad light.

  8. Allie says:

    Check out “thetruthaboutminnesota.com. Look under County News and select Rock County and choose Rock County news archive. You will see a video of this officer involved in police brutality while entering the home of a suspected drunk driver.

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