Wy. officers give up pay, vacation, promotion for roles in political traffic stop
The Associated Press
SHERIDAN, Wy.- A police lieutenant gave up four weeks of vacation time and opportunities for promotion, and a patrol officer accepted a week of unpaid leave, for their roles in a traffic stop of the mayor that some said was politically motivated.
Lt. Chris Dahmke and Patrol Officer James Arzy held a news conference Monday morning to disclose the terms of their discipline for their roles in the July 9, 2005, stop of Mayor Dave Kinskey.
Dahmke agreed to forfeit 20 days of vacation and to neither apply for nor accept promotion until he had completed 40 days of training, or until Nov. 30.
Arzy also agreed to 40 days of training and a one-week suspension without pay.
The discipline stems from the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop. A third officer, Detective Chris Cook, called while off duty to report he'd seen Kinskey drinking at a party and stumbling on his way to his car. Dahmke took the call, and Arzy pulled Kinskey over.
Kinskey passed field sobriety tests and insisted on a blood test, which showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 percent, well below the threshold for driving under the influence.
An independent investigation commissioned by the City Council found that the officers violated numerous department policies and procedures. Cook rejected a proposed settlement that would have allowed him to take a job with the local fire department. He was fired in April on the recommendation of the Sheridan Police Commission, but has said he would appeal that decision.
Dahmke and Arzy agreed to accept discipline in what were intended to be confidential settlements.
But the Sheridan Press sued, saying public agencies should not make confidential agreements. Last week, to settle the lawsuit, the officers agreed to disclose the terms of their agreements with the city.
Dahmke and Fraternal Order of Police official Mike Burnett of Casper were highly critical of Kinskey and of Police Chief Mike Card at Monday's news conference. Arzy wouldn't comment about his feelings toward Kinskey and Card.