Letter: Police chief situation handled poorly
Something stinks in West Fargo and it is not the lagoon.
When I heard on the news that Mike Reitan had been suspended as Chief of Police, I went through the possibilities of what he could have done that was so egregious that he would lose his job over it and came up blank.
How does a 30-year veteran with an exemplary record get suspended? There is nothing in his jacket that signifies that he was informed about the anonymous complaints nor does anything indicate that he was given the opportunity to address them. These complaints go back to at least 2010, why was nothing done about them previously when Arlan Rasmussen was Chief?
Anonymous complaints should never be allowed because there is no way to address them, acknowledge that they have been taken care of or even that they are legitimate. Every workplace has complainers and judging by the wording that is consistent in the complaints, it would appear they might be written by one or two people or there was collusion among the complainers. There is no way that the wording would be so consistent otherwise. If you are going to complain have the courage of your convictions and claim it. It is much easier to avoid retaliation if all parties are known. Also, if the department was so toxic why haven't any officers left? All complaints should be signed, turned in and dealt with in a timely manner. Timely does not mean wait until you want to get rid of someone and then bring them up years later — two weeks should be sufficient. Don't forget to document.
As for the insubordination charge regarding an ordinance — it makes no sense. The City Administrator does not have the authority to change or declare ordinances unenforceable. The City Commission enacts them, the city attorney should have reviewed them before they were enacted and then it is up to the Police to enforce them. If the commission feels that it needs to be reviewed again — they should repeal the ordinance, have it reviewed and then re-enact it if need be.
The City Administrator should in no way, ever, be in charge of the police chief.
The public was promised an open meeting about this situation, I believe they said "possibly next Friday". Well guess what? Friday has come and gone and another Friday has come and gone and still no meeting. I dislike being lied to. I called the city asking when the meeting was going to be and was told nothing was scheduled.
An investigation has been launched by the City but that is something that should have happened before Reitan was suspended and after the complaints were addressed with him.
I was appalled to learn that West Fargo has a reputation for doing what it wants, when it wants, regardless of what is right or wrong. Consider me a formerly proud citizen of West Fargo who will remember all of this come election time.