LaSalle Co. (ECWd) -
A recent tip came in regarding a LaSalle Police Department Sgt that if true would be problematic for both the officer and those handling the investigation. A copy of the tip can be found at this link. Key points of information have been redacted to protect certain information and people. Of interest was the insistence that we file numerous Freedom of Information Act requests with the Lasalle PD, Utica PD, Peru PD, Illinois State Police, and LaSalle County States Attorney Brian Towne.
The results have been most telling!
To date, both the ISP and the LaSalle County State's Attorney Brian Towne have failed to comply with FOIA and have provided no response or explanation why they have ignored our request, which can be viewed here for the ISP and here for the State's Attorney.
What is most interesting in this investigation is the information provided appears to support something was, in fact, turned over to the State Police and it's evident multiple agencies did not want a paper trail.
For example, Peru Police Department provided these records, of which NONE of them mention anything about the officer in question. The information provided did have a common denominator with the tip we received, and that was that advertisements were taking place through a website called Backpage. A follow-up question to Peru asking for additional records provided a most interesting response.
"What I provided is all I have in reference to this request. Any other information was forwarded verbally to LaSalle PD Chief and Investigative Lieutenant by our Detective Sergeant for them to handle any investigation."
Just so we have this straight, a Police Department forwarded something worthy of an investigation to another police department Chief and Investigator but did so verbally? How is it that a potential criminal investigation by law enforcement involving another police officer is passed to another agency verbally? Is this the first indicator that our brave men in blue, which I respect and support..........most of the time, are covering up potential wrongdoing of one of their own? The documents provided make no mention of Officer Strand so why would Peru PD contact the LaSalle PD Chief in the first place?
Utica Police Department's response resulted in no records of any kind other than one month's phone bill for the department. Follow up FOI requests may prove interesting.
Where this gets interesting, outside of the fact the State's Attorney and State Police have yet to comply with FOIA on this matter is the LaSalle Police Chief's response.
"Number 1 references the matter as being allegedly handled by the Peru Police. The LaSalle Police Department has no copy of any police report regarding a Sgt. James Strand of LaSalle and Utica Police Departments regarding Sgt. Strand's alleged solicitation of a prostitute that was or is allegedly being handled by the Peru Police.
How interesting is it that the LaSalle Chief makes no reference to the fact the Peru PD passed this matter to him and his investigator for them to investigate? How is, or was, a matter being handled by Peru Police "alleged" when they claimed they turned it over to LaSalle Police Chief and Investigator?
"LaSalle investigated primarily whether any personnel discipline was appropriate."
Ah, so something was turned over worthy of an investigation but no one seems to want to tell us what that is. Interesting to see his first statement implied Peru PD was or is "allegedly" handling the matter when in fact now it appears he is handling it as an internal policy matter. Thus he knew the Peru investigation was real and not alleged which begs the question, why refer to Peru's handling of this as alleged?
"There was no discipline imposed by the City of LaSalle as to Sgt. Strand regarding any alleged solicitation of a prostitute which is believed totally unfounded."
Is this now the first admission that there was, in fact, an allegation of solicitation of a prostitute by one of his officers? He clearly acknowledges he believed such an allegation is unfounded which leads to the question, who made such an allegation in the first place? How is it that no one seems to have any written report on this allegation? For the record, we made no such allegation. We simply asked for records pertaining to an investigation of the alleged solicitation, meaning someone else made the allegation.
"There was discipline imposed and thus, an adjudication regarding certain policy violations involving Sgt. Strand."
Oh, so something that was passed on verbally from the "alleged" investigation by Peru PD led to in internal investigation and handled as "policy" violations.
"Number 5-The City of LaSalle Police Department has no copy of any written or email communication with the Illinois State Police regarding this incident. Any communications by the LaSalle Police Department in regard to any alleged incident that could be to our knowledge allegedly construed as being related to this alleged incident was verbal to the best of my knowledge."
Much like Peru PD, LaSalle PD has no "written" communications regarding this incident. Huh, what incident? The one that they refer to as alleged incident multiple times? Did he forget to use the word alleged in that line? Surely not because this alleged incident that he states were unfounded, would have no need to talk to the State Police.........oh, wait, to the best of his knowledge the communications with the State Police would have been verbal. You know, like Peru's communication with LaSalle. If this matter was handled as an internal policy violation why on earth would the State Police be involved, especially since it is unfounded?
For a matter to be nothing more than an unfounded allegation we sure would like to know who made the allegation in the fisrt place that resulted in the need for "verbal" communications between so many police departments. If this matter was handled as an internal policy violation why on earth would the State Police be involved, especially since it is unfounded?
Reading the discipline report of the Police Sgt, a shift supervisor, one can stop wondering why so many are losing respect for some of our men in blue who put their lives on the line daily.
Policy Violations (Rules and Regulations)
- Unauthorized Self-Assigned Police Actions
So a shift supervisor has admitted to taking unauthorized police actions? That indicates more than one action. We will do our best to find out what those actions were but we suspect they will attempt to keep that information private.
- Unauthorized Prohibited Associations
So who was this officer Associating with? Was it a known criminal? Was it a prostitute? Just exactly what were the associations that lead to his discipline?
- Unauthorized Persons in Police Vehicles
Huh, we can only wonder who he had in his Police Vehicle that was not authorized and we can only imagine what they were doing.
- Unauthorized Personal Business
Personal Business? Is that an admission that he was using public property for personal matters? If so, that may constitute a felony violation of Article VIII Section 1 of our State Constitution, which clearly states public funds, property, and credit shall only be used for public purpose.
- Conduct (inappropriate)
Interesting that we now get to a point where they admit inappropriate conduct yet they have yet to say what that conduct was.
- Unauthorized Leaving the City of LaSalle
Is it safe to assume this departure landed him in Peru Police Department crosshairs of an investigation that was verbally passed back to LaSalle PD?
- Unauthorized Personal Use of Cell Phone
So what exactly was done with this cell phone that was not authorized?
Allegations of solicitation aside, the admission of the above charges sure seem to fit Official Misconduct, which is a criminal statute and it appears this discipline document points to violations of Article VIII Section 1. That would also fall under Official Misconduct and only the LaSalle County States Attorney could bring such a charge.
You know, the same one that has refused to answer our FOIA request. Our source reports that the Illinois States Police investigated this matter and turned it over to Brian Towne some time ago and he is sitting on it.
Why does this matter stink to high heaven? A follow-up request tells me there is more to this than these people are telling us.
I asked for a "Copy of completed investigation files pertaining to any investigation performed by the LaSalle Police Department regarding Sgt. James Strand in the last 5 years."
The response was most telling and consistent with a pattern of cover-up we have seen with many other public bodies.
"You were previously provided with the final outcome of the only investigation by LaSalle Police Department primarily focused on whether any personnel discipline was appropriate in our response to your FOIA Request on Friday of last week, September 30, 2016."
You see, I did not ask for the final outcome of their investigations. I asked for the completed investigation "files". Those files would include the allegations, interview notes, recordings, admissions etc. A continued follow-up will take place and we will keep you posted on the actions of certain LaSalle Police Department personnel to include the Cheif of the Department.
And of most interest, a shift supervisor who admitted to the charges listed above received a whopping two-day suspension!
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