More light has been shed on the misconduct allegations made to the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council against current and former Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office employees.
In March, these misconduct complaints against current Deputies Mike Miles and Bill Knox, and former Sergeant Dan Mulkey, were pending POST Council investigation, as previously reported. The POST Council is a semi-judicial board within the Montana Department of Justice that oversees the certification and training of all public safety officers in Montana.
According to POST documents, the complaints made against Miles for lying during an official investigation, making false statements about his supervisors and code of ethics violations; and against Knox for failing to properly follow up on two sexual crimes, were found “not sustained” during the POST Case Status Committee meetings on April 3.
The committee unanimously recommended the POST Council take “no further action” on these complaints, which were both submitted to POST by former Sheriff Frank Kluesner, the documents said.
However, the POST Council is still investigating misconduct allegations against former Sergeant Dan Mulkey, who Sheriff Paul Craft noted “resigned under investigation,” Beaverhead County and POST documents state.
The three main allegations against Mulkey include engaging in a sexual relationship with a dispatcher while on duty; lying about the existence and/or extent of this relationship; and lying under oath about whether Mulkey was questioned about the relationship by anyone.
The POST allegations against Mulkey, along with details about the POST complaints made against Miles and Knox, were laid out in the April 3 issue of the Dillon Tribune. The Dillon newspaper received county and POST documents regarding the Beaverhead Sheriff’s employees through Freedom of Information Act records requests, which they used to report three stories related to the pending POST complaints.
The documents released to the Dillon Tribune, and more recently to The Montana Standard, included memos written to the POST Council by its paralegal and investigator, Katrina Bolger. In the March memo regarding Mulkey, Bolger said Craft hand-delivered a letter and thumb drive concerning Mulkey’s resignation and the investigation that was pending into his conduct on February 21.
Mulkey had resigned as sergeant for the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office on January 31 after serving as a county peace officer for just under 10 years.
According to Bolger’s memo, the allegations against Mulkey date back to May 11, 2018, when he was questioned under oath by Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch during the county grievance hearing concerning Miles’ termination by former Sheriff Frank Kluesner. During this questioning, Fitch asked Mulkey if he was ever confronted about having a sexual relationship with a dispatcher, and if he ever both admitted and denied having this relationship, the memo said.
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Mulkey responded “negative” to all three questions.
But the memo stated that later on during the grievance hearing, Fitch questioned Dillon Police Chief Don Guiberson, who testified that he confronted Mulkey about having the alleged affair with a dispatcher.
Guiberson indicated that the dispatcher had told him about her relationship with Mulkey, and he told the then-sergeant that “a number of people seemed to know about it, and it was reflecting badly on the sheriff during the election,” the memo says.
Mulkey reportedly denied the relationship at first, but later admitted to having sex with the dispatcher once, the memo says Guiberson testified. Three other Beaverhead County law enforcement officials also testified during the hearing and confirmed the sexual relationship between the dispatcher and Mulkey, and the dispatcher herself provided a written statement and photographs confirming the relationship, Bolger’s memo states.
Bolger concluded in the memo that it appears there was a sexual relationship between Mulkey and the dispatcher, and additional information is available to “confirm whether the relationship was carried out while Mulkey was on duty."
She also concluded that if Mulkey lied about the existence and/or extent of the sexual relationship, it depends “entirely upon Guiberson’s credibility since the claimed confrontation was between the two of them," and that if Mulkey lied under oath, it again requires a credibility determination between Mulkey and Guiberson.
On April 3, the POST Case Status Committee decided to provide Mulkey with the opportunity to respond to these allegations. The POST Council’s administrative rules state that this correspondence also allows the council to gather more information, and potentially allow the parties to reach an informal resolution.
The administrative rules state that POST will investigate a complaint after it has been presented to to the council, review the allegations made in the complaint, and decide how to move forward. If a complaint's allegations are found “sustained,” POST has the authority to proceed with an appropriate sanction on a public safety officer’s certificate, the rules say.
Once the POST investigation into the misconduct allegations against Mulkey is complete, Beaverhead County Sheriff Paul Craft said he believes most of the problems within his office related to officer misconduct and the former administration will be settled.
“I want to build our officers’ confidence in their administration again,” Craft said. “Confident people do good jobs.”