Previously I broke a story about a North Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper who was involved in a distracted driving incident. He drove the wrong way down U.S. Highway 2 for more than four miles while talking on the phone to a commander back in January, but an investigation into the incident wasn’t started by the Highway Patrol until 72 days later, and 8 days after I filed an open records request.
The investigation into the incident was to have been released last week, but apparently there’s some sort of a delay. Also, per an open records request I filed this morning, it seems Lt. Troy Hischer, has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
I wrote about it at Watchdog today:
“The investigation is still ongoing; there will be no determination on any discipline until the investigation is complete,” Capt. Aaron Hummel said this morning in response to an emailed inquiry from Watchdog. …
Previously, Hummel said his investigation would be completed and disclosed to the public by Wednesday or Thursday of last week.
In response to an open records request, Hummel provided a March 31 email sent by Capt. Kyle Ternes.
“Lt. Hischer has been placed on Administrative Leave subject to an internal investigation until further notice,” the email states.
“I will not be able to discuss the reason for the leave any further,” Hummel said in comments included with his response to the open records request, citing section 44-04-18.1(1) of the North Dakota Century Code.
State open records laws require that any time a request for information is rebuffed those denying the access must cite the statute which allows them to do so. The statute cited by Hummel states this: “Any record of a public employee’s medical treatment or use of an employee assistance program is not to become part of that employee’s personnel record and is confidential and, except as otherwise authorized by law, may not be used or disclosed without the written authorization of the employee.”
Here’s the email sent regarding Hischer’s leave: