After a nearly two month paid administrative leave, Dayton Police Chief Richard Pietrzak was welcomed back on the job Monday, Feb. 25. The reinstatement comes on the heels of an oral reprimand for what the council determined as unprofessional conduct. However, Mayor Tim McNeil declined to comment whether the paid administrative leave was related to the events surrounding the oral reprimand. Pietrzak was first placed on administrative leave Dec. 31, 2012.
The disciplinary action is the result of an internal affairs investigation prompted by a complaint made against Pietrzak by an individual who does not reside in Dayton. The individual, who was in contact with the Dayton Police Department during the summer of 2012, believed a Dayton resident was in possession of his property illegally.
The investigation’s findings state a Dayton police officer made an oral report of the incident to Pietrzak and subsequently completed a written report. After reviewing the report, Pietrzak contacted the individual involved in the incident with the police officer to follow up.
The investigator determined during the phone call, Pietrzak behaved unprofessionally and discourteously to the citizen making remarks that were “inappropriate and exacerbated the situation.”
More specifically, the investigation called into question the comment Pietrzak made, “what comes around goes around.”
Pietrzak denied that the comments were intended as a threat or intimidation but during formal testimony during the investigation, he did not offer an alternative explanation.
The investigation concluded allegations of unprofessional, discourteous, intimidating and threatening conduct, allegations of employee misconduct for getting personally involved with an investigation and allegations of insubordination should all be sustained.
The findings were presented to the former sitting council members who determined the chief should serve a two-day unpaid suspension. Resolution was not achieved prior to the changeover in January, which included three new individuals occupying seats on the council and Tim McNeil moving into the mayoral seat.
The grievance process allows for three steps. The first step involves the grieved party — in this case, the police chief — to appeal to his supervisor to have the discipline removed. City Administrator Samantha Orduno is Pietrzak’s direct supervisor. Having failed to reach the desired result in that step, the situation moved to step two. This step involved Pietrzak appealing before the council. The information was presented to the new council in a closed meeting Feb. 12 and the council sustained the allegation of unprofessional conduct only. For this, they determined an oral reprimand to be the appropriate discipline.
Pietrzak accepted this imposed discipline of an oral reprimand Feb. 22, thereby avoiding consideration of moving into step 3 of the grievance process which would involve arbitration. According to the According to the Record of Oral Reprimand, this is the first blemish on Pietrzak’s record. He has served more than 50 years, split between the Minneapolis Police Department and Dayton Police Department.
Chief Pietrzak was restored to active duty beginning Monday, Feb 25.
Additionally, Dayton City Council called a special meeting and met in closed session Feb. 22. McNeil said the council received updates on inherited investigations. Pietrzak received the oral reprimand during an open meeting following the closed session.
“The new Dayton City Council, as new councils often do, inherited ongoing investigations,” stated McNeil. “While the council works to bring all investigations begun by the prior council to conclusion as quickly as prudently possible, some matters are still under consideration.”
McNeil also stated internal investigations can stem from a variety of issues from standard policies to external allegations.
Investigations themselves often result in closed door sessions to review findings, if any; and take actions, if any actions are warranted, he said.
“In compliance with state law, and to protect the rights of those involved in an ongoing investigation, no comments are made regarding ongoing investigations or closed investigations that resulted in no action,” McNeil said.
Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at [email protected]