Monday, March 20, 2006

03202006 - Deputy Jeffrey Lutz - Eaton County SD


Officer Lutz's world was crumbling around him. He had been in crisis since a shoot out in 2004.

During an exchange of gun fire in a hostage situation, one of Lutz's bullets hit a pregnant waitress. Both the waitress and the baby survived, but Officer Lutz never forgave himself. He kept reaching out for  help over the next couple of years...and it was obvious, even to those on the force that he was in crisis and he appeared suicidal.

In addition to apparently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, Lutz's marriage was crumbling. There were alligations of his wife's  alcohol and drug abuse.

A Lt. at the Eaton County SD, noted that prior to Lutz shooting himself, that he believed Lutz's world was "unraveling"...but he did nothing. In February 2006, Deputy Lutz had to bail his ex-wife out of jail. On March 9th, he learned that his ex-wife was under investigation by both the East Lansing PD and his own department for drugs.

On March 20th, while on duty, Deputy Lutz shot himself. A failed suicide attempt? A cry for help?

Paula Olivarez (P#38947) for Plaintiff.
Michael Sanders (P#35648) for Defendant.OPINION

On September 12, 2006, the Bureau received an Application filed by Plaintiff alleging injury dates of September 11, 1996, October 2004, and March 20, 2006 as a last day of employment. The Plaintiff further alleged that the stress of employment caused disability.

At the time of the trial in this matter, it was stipulated that both the employer and employee were subject to the Act on the date of injury alleged and that Defendant as a self-insured carried that risk. It was also stipulated that Plaintiff was in the employ of Defendant at the time of the alleged personal injury.

It was denied that a personal injury arose out of and in the course of employment.

Notice and claim were admitted for all dates of injury, with the exception of claim being denied as to the September 11, 1996 date of injury.

The gross wage was stipulated to be $1,099.74 for the October 2004 injury date.

The March 2006 injury date was stipulated to be $1.159.25. There was no dual employment. It was denied that any disability is due to the alleged personal injury.

IRS filing status and dependency was left to proofs.

Jeffery Lutz, Plaintiff
State Representative Rick Jones, former sheriff of Eaton County.
Jeffery Warder, lieutenant for Eaton County Sheriff Department.

EXHIBITS: Plaintiff:
1. Employment awards and accommodations.
2. Evaluations.
3. Sparrow Hospital records.
4. Records of Dr. Sigal.
5. Records of Psych Appraisal Associates.
6. Video tape of a news broadcast from WILX News 10 on April 12, 2006.
7. Deposition of Alton Kirk, Ph.D., taken January 4, 2008.

A. Deposition testimony of Harvey Ager, M.D., taken February 8, 2007.
B. Legal documents related to Plaintiff’s divorce proceedings.
C. Various emails from Defendant to his ex-wife.
D. Judgment of sentence relative to Plaintiff.

The trial in this matter was held on February 4, 2008 and February 22, 2008. The first to testify on behalf on Plaintiff was State Representative Rick Jones.

Representative Jones worked for 31 years in the Eaton County Sheriff Department, retiring as sheriff of Eaton County. Representative Jones testified that Plaintiff was a good police officer, and had been promoted to detective because of his ability to do good job as an officer. Representative Jones worked with Plaintiff for 12 years.

Representative Jones testified regarding an incident that occurred at Red Robin Restaurant in October 2004.
At that time, a police officer looking for a specific felon observed this felon driving a car. A chase ensued, and the felon fled through the Red Robin Restaurant on West Saginaw in Lansing. The felon tried to escape by taking a pregnant waitress out the back door with a gun to her head. This felon was suspected of murder.

A gun battle occurred between the police officers at Red Robin, including Plaintiff. Shots were fired and the waitress was hit in the hip by Plaintiff's bullet. The source of the bullet was not determined until sometime later.

According to Representative Jones, as a routine, officers that are involved in traumatic events such as this are released from duty and given assistance from a psychiatrist or psychologist until they are allowed to return to work. There is also a debriefing done at that time. Therefore, this was done with Plaintiff. His weapon was also taken per routine.

Representative Jones retired as the sheriff of Eaton County on December 31, 2004, prior to being sworn in as a state representative for the district he now represents.

Mr. Jones was not able to recall exactly when Plaintiff returned to work. He did indicate that Plaintiff had a couple of psychiatric sessions, and that it took several weeks to determine that it was Plaintiff's weapon that struck the waitress in the hip.

According to Representative Jones, he has seen Plaintiff on a couple of occasions since this incident occurred.

He ran into Plaintiff at Frank’s Press Box, a local bar/restaurant where Plaintiff's now ex-wife worked at the time.

He saw Plaintiff on two occasions at Frank’s Press Box.

According to Representative Jones, Plaintiff was very distraught and tearful and seemed remorseful regarding the event that occurred at Red Robin.

Representative Jones advised Plaintiff that it was necessary that Plaintiff fire the bullet. The waitress and her baby survived and that it was a good ending. At that point, Representative Jones told the Eaton County Sheriff Department to make sure that Plaintiff got psychological help.

Representative Jones spoke with Captain Wessels and Captain McPhail regarding the matter.

On cross-examination, Representative Jones indicated that he never saw psychiatric records indicating that Plaintiff could return to work on December 6, 2004.

Representative Jones also testified that he would never have forced someone back to work before they were ready.

Furthermore, Representative Jones testified that he was not present at Red Robin when the gun shooting incident occurred, but rather he got there shortly thereafter.

Also, Representative Jones is aware that Plaintiff was convicted of a felony, namely shooting himself intentionally, and filing a false report.

Representative Jones indicated that Plaintiff is not eligible to be hired as a deputy because of his felony record.

Representative Jones also admitted that he recommended Plaintiff hire his current attorney Paula Olivarez after running into him at Davis Buick/Pontiac where Plaintiff now works.

Plaintiff testified in this matter, Plaintiff testified that he is currently single, and has partial custody of his two daughters and son. He sees his two daughters every other weekend and on Tuesday nights and his son on a more regular basis.

Plaintiff graduated from Grand Ledge High School in 1988.

After graduating high school, Plaintiff worked for his father as an electrician. Plaintiff had to pull wires and crawl through tunnels as an electrician’s helper which he did for one and half years.

After that, Plaintiff joined the Army where he worked full time, and then in the reserves one weekend per month for eight years.

Plaintiff was in the military police division of the Army.

In approximately 1990, Plaintiff worked in the Lansing city assessor’s office getting information door-to- door and taking measurements.

Next, Plaintiff went to work for Brown Corporation in Ionia as a laborer. He eventually became a crew leader and worked there until 1992.

In 1992, Plaintiff went to work for Defendant.

First, Plaintiff worked as a corrections officer in the jail for approximately two years.

Then, Plaintiff went to the police academy at LCC and he eventually became a road patrol deputy for Defendant.

Plaintiff always worked out of the Delta Township branch of the Eaton County Sheriff Department.

Plaintiff’s shift was from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. He worked on the road patrol for eight to ten years.

Plaintiff indicated that he had to respond to numerous fatal accidents which affected him somewhat, but he did not go to counseling because he felt he was supposed to be “strong and confident”.

Next, Plaintiff worked as a detective for Defendant. This included Plaintiff getting a pay raise, as well as having a car to take home. Plaintiff’s main job was to investigate child abuse and rape charges. Plaintiff would have to testify in these cases. Captain Fred McPhail of Defendant was his supervisor. Plaintiff worked about 150 to 200 cases per year. Eventually, Plaintiff made a decision to stop doing that type of work due to the level of stress, and started to work as a sergeant on the road patrol.

Plaintiff described his job as a road patrol sergeant as monitoring other deputies.

Plaintiff did this job for approximately three years, through his last day of work with Defendant.

Plaintiff also discussed an incident that occurred in September 1996, when he was shot while serving a search warrant. Plaintiff was the “point man”, or the first individual to go into the home. Plaintiff was struck in the left shoulder, (in his bullet proof vest) by a resident of the home where he was entering.

Plaintiff returned fire. He then took cover behind a wood pile. He had a debriefing following this event, and went to a psychologist who told him to relax and not to dwell on it.

Plaintiff was off work for three weeks and then returned to work, but did not “feel himself”.

Eventually, Plaintiff was advised to make a traffic stop to get him back into the routine of dealing
with the public.

Although Plaintiff continued to have some visions from time to time of the shooting event in 1996, he eventually did get back to full duty.

Plaintiff also testified about the Red Robin incident in October 2004.

According to Plaintiff, this involved two fugitives wanted for double homicide in Lansing. These fugitives were pulled over in a service drive near Red Robin Restaurant. The suspects got out of the car. Plaintiff observed these individuals running into Red Robin, and drove to the front of the restaurant with the car.

According to Plaintiff, when the two suspected felons ran into the restaurant, Plaintiff took cover outside the restaurant and heard shots being fired in the restaurant. Plaintiff ran around to the back of the building.

Next, Plaintiff observed two individuals with children coming out of the restaurant.

Then two young girls came out and Plaintiff ran them to the patrol car. He then returned to the back of the building and Plaintiff observed the waitress with the fugitive in the parking lot. The fugitive had a gun to the waitress’ head.

According to Plaintiff, the alleged felon pointed a gun at Plaintiff and started walking towards a van.
Shots were fired by Plaintiff and other police officers as well as the suspect.

Apparently, Plaintiff dragged the waitress twenty feet to safety. Once the suspect had been secured, Plaintiff notified Lieutenant Warder that he had discharged his weapon. Someone drove Plaintiff back to the station at Delta Township.

Throughout the next week, Plaintiff said there were lots of ups and downs, with him being the hero one minute, the next minute being advised that his bullet may have the hit the waitress.

Plaintiff testified that two days before this event in October 2004, Plaintiff’s wife was pulled over by another deputy at Defendant.

Plaintiff's wife was drunk and with another man. Plaintiff was advised of this matter, and Plaintiff went home to confront his wife.

At that time, Plaintiff’s wife admitted making out with him but not having sexual intercourse.
Plaintiff further testified that within 24 hours after the Red Robin incident, the psychological debriefing occurred with Dr. Gallagher.

There were about ten people at this meeting, including other officers involved.

Plaintiff had two more follow ups with Dr. Gallagher after that one about one week later, and then one thirty days later.

Plaintiff testified that he went and saw the prosecutor Jeff Sauter and that Mr. Sauter advised Plaintiff not to leave police work. According to Plaintiff, he cried in Mr. Sauter’s office for over one hour.

Plaintiff then returned to work, and shortly thereafter met with the waitress who had been shot by Plaintiff's weapon at Red Robin. Plaintiff gave his return to work date as December 6, 2004.

By 2005, Plaintiff indicated that he was not doing well. He started to isolate himself and did not go to social gatherings with other officers on his days off.

He testified that he was easily agitated, felt incompetent, could not focus, and stopped working overtime on his scheduled days off which was quite unusual. He sold his lawn care business that he had for three years.

With respect to his marriage, Plaintiff testified that he had married his wife Jamie Lutz in March 2000. He classified the marriage as always being a “roller coaster” and in 2005 the marriage was “okay”.

According to Plaintiff, his wife liked to stay out late. She worked at Frank’s Press Box three to four days per week. She also worked 32 hours a week at Capital Harley, a motorcycle dealership.

Plaintiff indicated that he tried to have at least one night out per week with his wife.

In the summer of 2005, Plaintiff was “making it” but burning up a lot of time off because he did not enjoy working. He was snippy with his co-workers, and his peers advised him that was being too relaxed with the deputies.

Plaintiff testified that he began to feel like a “black sheep” or an “oddball”.

Plaintiff was very jumpy and/or tired much of the time.

He also testified that he had nightmares which were getting worse. He would also go and sit in the Red Robin parking lot and stare at the post where a bullet was removed. At other times, Plaintiff would avoid going by Red Robin entirely.

With respect to his marriage, he indicated that by the summer of 2005 his wife was drinking too much. His own drinking varied.

According to Plaintiff, he was pulled over six times in a four month time period for driving erratically or going too fast, but he was never given a ticket.

Plaintiff testified that as a result of the Red Robin incident, he felt he had a problem but he was strong enough to work through it.

Plaintiff did not go back to his psychologist, because he felt that any information that he would give a psychologist hired by the county would get back to the department and Captain Wessels specifically.

Plaintiff testified that his family doctor at the time was Dr. Van Angt. He received medication such as Xanex and other medications but he only took them for about 30 days. He said that these medications did not make him feel better.

In October 2005, Plaintiff filed for a divorce.

According to Plaintiff, his wife refused to go to marriage counseling or get help with her drinking, and he felt that he had no choice left but to divorce her.

On November 1, 2005, after Plaintiff was living in a hotel for a week, his wife moved out of the marital home, and he moved in with the children. He said the next few months went well.

In February 2006, his wife was arrested for drunk driving.

Plaintiff had also been advised that his wife, Jamie, had been dancing on stage at Omar’s Show Bar and that she had been drinking excessively. Plaintiff got Jamie out of jail the next day on February 8, 2006.

Plaintiff next testified about an event shortly after her arrest wherein Plaintiff grabbed a shot gun off of a shelf, and appeared to be suicidal.

Plaintiff's wife advised Lieutenant Warder at Defendant regarding this event, and Lieutenant Warder suggested that Plaintiff contact his family doctor and get a referral to a psychiatrist.

It was around this time that Plaintiff was losing a significant amount of weight, and frequently going home for naps during his scheduled shifts.

Plaintiff described having anxiety attacks wherein he could not breathe, and felt his heart coming out of his chest as well as having sweats and shakes. Plaintiff had visions of the Red Robin incident concurrent with this symptoms.

On March 20, 2006, Plaintiff testified that he was having a bad day including racing thoughts, hopelessness and suicidal ideations. He indicated that he had lost about 50pounds at that point, going down to 158 from his customary healthy 205 pounds.

On March 20, 2006, Plaintiff stopped a speeding drunk driver going down Waverly Road.
He then ate at the Old Country Buffet with the other deputies on his shift.

Next, Plaintiff remembers being suicidal, going home and sleeping, then feeling better and being extremely bored.

Plaintiff could not remember shooting himself in the arm. He did recall struggling with a suspect at a gas station. They were struggling over the suspect’s gun. According to Plaintiff, the suspect shot at Plaintiff twice, striking him once in the arm. The suspect ran away.

This occurred behind a Clark gas station on West Saginaw in Lansing.

According to Plaintiff at the time of the trial in this matter, he indicated “those are my memories…I’m not saying it’s the facts”.

At that time, back up arrived and Plaintiff was taken to the hospital.

Plaintiff was only at the hospital for about 1½ hours, and next he went back to the office and met with Detective Herrold. He was driven home by Deputy Phillion and gave a statement to detectives at noon the next day. He also went to Dr. Gallagher along with Deputies Ivy and Phillion.

According to Plaintiff, he told Dr. Gallagher that he had given all that he could give, and that he was not able to do the job anymore.

According to Plaintiff, he was “crying like crazy”. He saw Dr. Gallagher one more time after that. Dr. Gallagher took Plaintiff off work and told Plaintiff to “tie one on and just relax”.

Plaintiff next requested to go to Community Mental Health in early April 2006.

This request was granted, and Plaintiff was sent there.

According to Plaintiff, the State Police also interviewed him before he went Community Mental Health. He was sent there under an involuntary commitment proceeding.

Plaintiff testified that he does not know where the gun was that was used in the shooting behind the Clark gas station.

Sergeant Jungel’s shell casings were found at the scene.

According to Plaintiff, he had Deputy Jungel’s gun after the March 2006 shooting event but he was not able to explain how Deputy Jungel’s gun got to the scene.

Plaintiff was unable to testify as to whether someone shot him or he shot himself.

After one week with this gun, Plaintiff testified that he returned it to Sergeant Jungel, but he returned it in pieces because he had spilled Mountain Dew on it and he was not able to properly clean it and put it back together.

According to Plaintiff, he was locked up at Community Mental Health for 72 hours, and then he volunteered for a program at St. Lawrence campus of Sparrow Hospital through their outpatient mental health program from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day for two weeks.

Currently, Plaintiff treats with Dr. Kirk once per week.

Following these events, Plaintiff was charged with two felonies: malicious destruction of squad car, and filing a false police report. He was also charged with two misdemeanors: a reckless discharge of firearm, and false reporting to the 911 operator.

Following the one year long criminal process, Plaintiff was found guilty on all four counts and was sentenced to five years probation four years community service, 60 days in jail with work release, as well as $49,000 restitution fine.

Currently, Plaintiff is finished with his jail sentence, and resigned from Defendant on October 1, 2006.

Plaintiff began to work for Davis Pontiac selling new and used cars.

He his scheduled 60 hours per week, but receives commission. His minimum draw is $500per week, and there were weeks where he received as much as $1800.

According to Plaintiff, his W-2 in 2007 showed income of $34,000.

Plaintiff testified that he has looked for other work and has posted his resume on Michigan Works. He is not confident that his job at Davis Pontiac will last much longer due to financial problems there.

Plaintiff currently sees a psychologist weekly (Dr. Kirk) and a psychiatrist once a month for medicine management.

Plaintiff continues to have nightmares as a result of his working with Defendant.

According to Plaintiff, he currently has difficulty remembering things.

Plaintiff also testified that his ex-wife Jamie has been investigated for cocaine related issues first in East Lansing, and then with the Eaton County Sheriff Department.

Plaintiff testified that currently he is able to do anything on “good days”.

However, when he has bad or mediocre days he has to sleep, and is not able to work at all on those days.

Plaintiff testified that he only has about two good days per week.

On cross-examination, Plaintiff testified that his evaluations were always exemplary through March 2006.

Plaintiff also admitted that he, too, had been unfaithful in his marriage.

On cross-examination, Plaintiff testified that he received no counseling whatsoever between December 2004 and through October 19, 2005.

On February 14, 2006, Plaintiff presented to his family physician with a history of stress and depression and that his “wife has gone crazy, not taking care of kids, dancing at Omar’s, doing the 26 year old drug pusher.”

Plaintiff gave no history whatsoever of problems in dealing with the Red Robin event.

Plaintiff testified that he had gone to the doctor for the purpose of referral for a therapist.

Also, Plaintiff indicated that the issue involving his ex-wife and a cocaine related investigation occurred on March 9, 2006.

The shooting incident at the Clark gas station occurred on March 20, 2006.

Plaintiff's divorce was made final in August of 2007, after the conviction for the crimes he had been charged with.

Plaintiff testified that he is no longer eligible to work as a deputy due to these felony convictions.

According to Plaintiff, Dr. Kirk was to engage in hypnotherapy with him. Plaintiff indicated that he is too scared to be hypnotized currently.

He is “waiting for his criminal case to be over so that he can testify honestly and truthfully”.

Furthermore, on cross-examination, Plaintiff indicated that he had a bad day before he was admitted to St. Lawrence and gave a history regarding divorce and stress over his children, and a man at his wife’s house that should not have been there.

He gave a denial regarding shooting himself.

According to Plaintiff, there was video surveillance taken of the place and time in which he claims to have been shot behind the Clark gas station. This does not show any evidence of shooting. He also indicated that his memory of the shooting event in March 2006 is somewhat confused.

Jeffery Warder testified on behalf of Defendant.

Lieutenant Warder is 40 years old and has been employed by Defendant for 16 years. Jeffery Warder is a lieutenant with the Delta substation at Defendant. Lieutenant Warder has held that rank for over 4 years. His duties are involving scheduling, budgets, and overseeing 36 deputies.

According to Lieutenant Warder, there are five sergeants at the Delta substation.

Lieutenant Warder has known Plaintiff for many years.

According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff was a sergeant through March 2006. He was Plaintiff's supervisor from October 2004 through March 2006.

Lieutenant Warder testified about the Red Robin incident in October 2004.

Lieutenant Warder got to the scene just as the matter was wrapping up.

It was Lieutenant Warder that had a deputy take Plaintiff back to the Delta station for debriefing.

According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff returned to work one to two weeks later.

At that point, it had been determined that Plaintiff’s bullet hit the hostage/waitress at Red Robin.

Plaintiff went off work again when this was discovered. He treated with a psychiatrist in Okemos.

Plaintiff told Lieutenant Warder that talking to the waitress/hostage’s family made him feel better.

On December 6, 2004, Plaintiff returned to work and therefore was released to work by his psychiatrist.

According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff's performance was very good after he returned to work. His job performance hadn’t changed and he was the “same old Jeff”.

According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff loved being a police officer.

Plaintiff never raised any issues with the lieutenant regarding the Red Robin event or any stress surrounding that circumstance.

By late summer/early fall of 2005, Plaintiff appeared to be stressed out.

He was using more leave time, and was not interested in his job as he had been in the past. He was performing less traffic stops and other police activities.

Lieutenant Warder asked Plaintiff if anything was bothering him. Plaintiff advised Lieutenant Warder that he was having marital difficulties.

Plaintiff had several conversations with Plaintiff regarding his marriage, and the difficulties that Plaintiff was having. Plaintiff was concerned about his spouse being unfaithful, as well as her having substance abuse issues.

Plaintiff was also voicing stress regarding his children.

During none of these conversations did Plaintiff voice any concerns regarding the Red Robin incident.
According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff was “consumed” with his marital problems, and he was “unraveling”.

Lieutenant Warder went to a seminar in Ohio which dealt in part with police officer suicide. Lieutenant Warder talked to Plaintiff about it and indicated that he should seek counseling. Plaintiff told Lieutenant Warder again that the stress was due to his marital difficulties.

After that, Plaintiff asked for a shift change in late 2005/early 2006 so that he could see his children more. At that point, Plaintiff and his wife were living separately.

With respect to Plaintiff having been convicted of two felonies, Lieutenant Warder indicated that Plaintiff would not be eligible to be re-employed by Defendant.

Lieutenant Warder also discussed the shooting that occurred in March 2006. This occurred about one month before charges were filed against Plaintiff.

Lieutenant Warder discussed Plaintiff asking for a smaller gun at Frank’s Press Box on one occasion.

On cross-examination, Lieutenant Warder indicated that police related stressors can have a traumatic effect on police officers. When Lieutenant Warder noticed stress in Plaintiff he did not refer Plaintiff to Captain Wessels.

Lieutenant Warder also indicated that police work can be very stressful and that the divorce rate is 75% amongst law enforcement officers.

Also, Lieutenant Warder discussed a conversation that he had with Plaintiff regarding the confidentiality of records with Dr. Gallagher. Apparently, no alternative counselor was offered at that time.

Plaintiff Exhibit 1 is awards and commendations related to Plaintiff.

These were reviewed by the Court. These awards and letters demonstrate that Plaintiff, during the time that he worked at Defendant, performed his job in a way deserving of significant praise and awards.

Plaintiff Exhibit 2 is Plaintiff's performance evaluations during the time that he worked at Defendant.

Again, these demonstrate that Plaintiff, throughout his employment with Defendant, through at least February 28, 2006 demonstrates that Plaintiff did his job effectively and professionally.

In fact, in the last evaluation from February 2006, the evaluation indicates that “Sergeant Lutz is one of the hardest workers assigned to the Delta patrol. He is a natural leader and is well respected by his shift. He is always willing to do what is asked of him, even if he does not agree with it.”

Plaintiff Exhibit 3 is medical records from Sparrow Health Systems.

This exhibit includes the emergency room records from the March 2006 shooting as well as the Sparrow psychiatric records. The shooting occurred on March 20, 2006.

Plaintiff presented to the Sparrow psychiatric unit with a history of stressors including his divorce, as well as his wife’s extramarital activities, and the hostage situation at Red Robin Restaurant.

Plaintiff also indicated that he was facing criminal charges which “is adding to his stress”.

In the initial psychiatric evaluation authored by Dr. Sigal, Plaintiff gave a history of being under a tremendous amount of stress “mainly connected with him going through the divorce process with his wife of five years.”

Plaintiff was discharged from inpatient services at Sparrow Behavioral Health on April 4, 2006. At that time, the final diagnosis was adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features, alcohol use/abuse and PTSD.

Plaintiff Exhibit 4 is records from Tatiana Sigal, M.D.
Dr. Sigal diagnosed bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.

According to a letter to Circuit Judge Eveland dated April 12, 2007 in Exhibit 4, Dr. Sigal indicated that Plaintiff suffered from post traumatic stress disorder related to the Red Robin incident, as well as significant marital issues which culminated on the date that the shooting incident occurred in March 2006.

The last note in the exhibit is from April 5, 2007. Plaintiff was still suffering from the same diagnosis at that time and was making poor progress.

Plaintiff Exhibit 5 is records from Psych Appraisal Associates.
There is a note from Dr. Kaufman dated November 10, 2004 indicating that Plaintiff returned to work to early following the Red Robin incident in October 2004.

Dr. Kaufman recommended timed release Xanax at that time.

By December 1, 2004, a note from Dr. Gallagher indicates that Plaintiff was feeling much better.

Plaintiff was planning on returning to work on Monday, December 6, 2004. According to the note, Plaintiff reported “I’m ready-I really am-I’m ready.” Dr. Gallagher agreed, and returned Plaintiff to work as of December 6, 2004.

In fact, there is a typed letter dated December 20, 2004 signed by both Drs. Gallagher and Kaufman indicating that Plaintiff was capable of conforming his behaviors to the essential job and task functions of a sworn officer and should have no problems returning to full duty status as of December 6, 2004.

The next entry is from March 20, 2006. At that time, Plaintiff was very unstable and crying.
Plaintiff gave a history of feeling less than productive since the Red Robin event.

Exhibit 5 also contains a typed letter from Dr. Gallagher indicating that Plaintiff be off duty, on leave, for a period of ninety days until approximately June 26, 2006 due to a duty related gun shot injury received by Plaintiff on March 20, 2006.

Plaintiff Exhibit 6 was viewed by the Court.
It is a short item that was presented on WILX News 10 broadcast on April 12, 2006.

The newscast reported that Plaintiff's personnel file had been reviewed, and did not show any history of discipline or significant events in Plaintiff's work history.

There was a suggestion that for a time Plaintiff had too many cases as a detective, and was advised not to work as hard.

Plaintiff Exhibit 7 is the deposition of Alton Kirk, Ph.D.
Dr. Kirk is a psychologist that began treating Plaintiff on April 25, 2006.

Dr. Kirk felt that Plaintiff suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. He further felt that Plaintiff received inadequate treatment from the Red Robin event and that his psychological state was extremely poor at the time of the March 2006 shooting event.

Dr. Kirk also testified that Plaintiff was having marital problems at the time of the March 2006 shooting. He felt that the shooting should be classified as “transient amnesia”, wherein Plaintiff is unclear of whether he was shot by someone else or had a self inflicted wound.

Furthermore, Dr. Kirk felt that although Plaintiff was having marital problems, they did not have a significant effect on his mental status.

Dr. Kirk also opined that Plaintiff is not capable of returning to police work given his post traumatic stress disorder.

With respect to employment in general, Dr. Kirk testified that Plaintiff could only do a job that had flexible hours and to “work independently”.

Finally, with respect to the March 2006 shooting, Dr. Kirk indicated that Plaintiff is not sure what happened on the day he was shot, that is whether it was a self inflicted wound versus Plaintiff being shot in the midst of scuffle.

On cross-examination, Dr. Kirk indicated that when Plaintiff initially saw him, he did not give a history of anything having to do with the Red Robin incident.

Furthermore, Dr. Kirk indicated that the March 2006 shooting event could have been significant enough to justify the post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis even without the prior incidents at Red Robin, and the drug raid in 1996.

Dr. Kirk also testified that working could be good therapy for Plaintiff.

Dr. Kirk also testified that Plaintiff's psychotherapy sessions with Dr. Kirk are a condition of his probation.
Finally, Dr. Kirk testified that although the incident at Red Robin was one of many stress factors, it was the one that carried the most weight.

Defendant Exhibit A is the deposition testimony of Harvey Ager, M.D.

Dr.Ager, a board-certified psychiatrist, saw Plaintiff at the request of Defendant on October 22, 2006.

Dr. Ager spent 1¾ hours with Plaintiff taking a detailed history and formal mental status examination. Dr. Ager also reviewed documentation and information that was supplied to him by defense counsel.

Dr. Ager opined that Plaintiff may have developed an adjustment disorder.

He did not relate this to Plaintiff's employment with Defendant.

Dr. Ager felt that Plaintiff may have also inherited an underlying biological type of mood disorder.

Further, Dr. Ager indicated that Plaintiff could return to work as a police officer with no restrictions if he had the desire to do so and he was legally able to do so.

Dr. Ager also was of the opinion that Plaintiff's marital problems were a “lot more significant than any alleged difficulties that he was experiencing on the job prior to the shooting incident on March 20, 2006.”

Dr. Ager did testify that the adjustment disorder may also be related to Plaintiff having lost his job and the criminal proceedings that have developed as a result of what happened regarding the March 2006 shooting.
Finally, Dr. Ager felt that Plaintiff was not in need of mental health treatment.

Although this Court does accept the testimony of Dr. Ager as far as his expert opinion, the documentation which was given to him for review, as well as the correspondence sent to him by defense counsel are hereby excluded as they do constitute hearsay.

Dr. Ager’s opinion is limited to the history taking and mental status evaluation that he personally performed.
Although Plaintiff counsel objected to the entirety of the deposition, that objection is overruled.

Defendant Exhibit B was reviewed by the Court.
It includes an Application for a Personal Protection Order filed by Jamie Lutz against Plaintiff. A Personal Protection Order was granted on April 3, 2006.

Plaintiff then filed a motion to terminate the Order in an Application dated April 14, 2006.

The Application for the Personal Protection Order contains various statements by Plaintiff's ex-wife against Plaintiff.
The allegations include events of February 7, 2006 wherein Plaintiff grabbed a gun, and was engaged in suicidal behavior.

Defendant Exhibit C is e-mails between Plaintiff and Jamie Lutz.
This exhibit was reviewed in its entirety, and contains no information whatsoever regarding the Red Robin incident, or any work related stress at all.

Exhibit C contains lengthy e-mails, some of which were several pages in length involving detailed accounts of marital stress, custody issues, money issues, and other matters related to the pending divorce.

Defendant Exhibit D is the sentencing document indicating that Plaintiff was convicted by a jury of four counts.
Plaintiff was sentenced to jail, with work release as well as restitution and a five year probation order.

Plaintiff was also ordered to provide 400 hours of community service.

In order to establish a compensable claim, the Plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of evidence, each element of the claim. Aquilina v. General Motors Corp. 304 Mich 206(1978). Furthermore, an employee, in order to receive workers’ disability compensation benefits, must prove a personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment. MCL 418.301(1).

Additionally, MCL 418.301(2) states that “mental disabilities and conditions of the aging process, including but not limited to heart and cardiovascular conditions, shall be compensable if contributed to or aggravated or accelerated by the employment in a significant manner. Mental disabilities shall be compensable when arising out of actual events of employment, not unfounded perceptions thereof.”

In Robertson v. Daimler Chrysler Corp. 465 Mich 732(2002), the Michigan Supreme Court held that not only the actual events, but also the worker’s perception of those events must be founded in actual fact in order to prevail in a psychiatric disability claim.

Furthermore, in Martin v. City of Pontiac School District  that Plaintiff's marital/domestic situation was by far the most significant stress factor in his life during the periods in question.

Although Dr. Kirk attempted to lay the blame for Plaintiff's post traumatic stress disorder upon the Red Robin Restaurant incident, I did not find there to be adequate evidence to support that opinion.

First of all, it is abundantly clear from looking at Plaintiff's performance evaluations, as well as listening to the testimony submitted that Plaintiff did not have difficulty beyond a few weeks after that event occurred.

Plaintiff returned to work, and did his job in an outstanding fashion through his last performance evaluation in early 2006.

Additionally, when one looks at Dr. Kirk’s initial history, as well as the first few visits, it is clear that Plaintiff discussed his personal/marital problems with Dr. Kirk and entirelyomitted anything having to do with the Red Robin Restaurant event.

Although he eventually began to talk about the Red Robin event, after listening to Plaintiff's testimony in its entirety, coupled with the testimony of Dr. Ager, a board-certified psychiatrist, I did not give significant weight to Plaintiff's position that his stress resulted from the Red Robin shooting event in October 2004.

Additionally, Jeffery Warder’s testimony is significant in this matter. It is clear that Mr. Warder and Plaintiff had a close relationship, both at work and personally.

I found Lieutenant Warder’s testimony to be credible and accurate that Plaintiff did not complain about the Red Robin event to him, but rather did voice on a number of occasions the significant problems that he was having with his then wife Jamie Lutz.

It is also clear that the event of March 2006 wherein Plaintiff was convicted of filing false report, as well as a number of other criminal counts was quite stressful to him.

I also did not find Plaintiff to be a credible witness at the time of trial.

Plaintiff made statements that certainly called his veracity into question, particularly when he testified that he wants to hold off on hypnotherapy with Dr. Kirk until the criminal matter is over so that he can “testify honestly and truthfully”.

Moreover, the fact that Plaintiff's emotional symptoms are not work related is significantly bolstered by Defendant Exhibit C.

This Court spent hours reviewing these e-mails which were primarily long rambling statements from Plaintiff to Jamie Lutz.

The stress and depression that Plaintiff was feeling at that time is palpable upon a careful reading of these documents.
It is clear that Plaintiff was significantly stressed out, and had reason to be, during the time that these e-mails were written. These certainly provide a better glimpse of Plaintiff's then emotional condition, as opposed to his testifying in Court almost two years later.

For the reasons set forth above, as well as the entirety of the evidence presented at trial I find that Plaintiff has failed to establish a work related psychiatric condition.

Therefore, Defendant bears no responsibility as far as the payment of workers’ compensation benefits, either by the way of wage loss or medical.

Therefore, Plaintiff’s Application is hereby dismissed.

Signed on April 3, 2008 at Lansing, Michigan.

Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Commission Meeting Minutes
September 12, 2007
Oronoko Township Public Safety Building Berrien Springs, Michigan
Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Commission Meeting.
Berrien Sorines. MI
page 10
Sentemher 12. 2007
Commission Revocations - Mr. Furtaw presented the following cases recommending the Commission consider the proofs, finding of facts, and conclusions of law found in the "Proposals for Decision" issued by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Michael Zimmer.
Jeffrey Lutz - Mr. Lute, a former Eaton County Sheriffs Deputy, was convicted of false report of a felony discharge of a firearm in the 56th District Court in Eaton County on March 13, 2007.
A MOTION was made by Mr. DeVries and supported by Trooper Moorman to accept the Proposal for Decision of the Administrative Law Judge and revoke the law enforcement license of Mr. Jeffrey Lutz.
A VOTE was taken. The MOTION carried.

New Details in Deputy Accused of Shooting Himself
WLNS News April 16th, 2006
New developments in the case of the Eaton County sheriff’s sergeant who prosecutors say made up a story about being shot by a black man, when he really shot himself.

The Michigan State Police handed over a report to the Eaton County prosecutor as part of the investigation.

Prosecutors aren’t sharing the details, but we’ve learned from state police that Jeff Lutz did not use his own gun to shoot himself. Police say they found a 25 caliber gun, and the bullet casing matched those found at a Delta Township shopping center where the incident happened.

Sergeant's Personnel Files Include Mostly Praise, Some Warnings
Tony Tagliavia
Posted: 11:24 PM Apr 12, 2006

The Eaton County Sheriff's Sergeant accused of shooting himself March 20 has a largely positive history at the department, according to his 500-plus page personnel obtained by News 10.

While there are some warnings about potential burn-out, the report contains nothing to indicate to an everyday observer he would shoot himself and blame a black man for it.

The records include performance reviews, one calling Lutz "the hardest worker on his shift." He's praised for his conduct as an officer -- and he's praised for his dealings with the public.

Eaton County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Brian Peacock says the file is mostly positive. "The only thing out of the ordinary is the extraordinary work record," Peacock said. Lutz is described as dedicated, but at one point, superiors told him he was "taking on too many investigations." "...It was difficult to complete all of them," Peacock said.

A few reports advised Lutz "not to let his emotions get in the way" of his work.

The file contains no citizen complaints. There are also no discplinary reports.

"If someone is discplined, the record will go into his file for a prescribed period," Peacock said. After that time, he says, the discipline record is removed. But Peacock says beyond the limited memory of the personnel file, he doesn't remember any significant disciplinary action taken against the sergeant.

The records show a commendation for Lutz after he was shot in the shoulder in 1996.

We didn't see any records of another shooting he was involved in -- this one at a Red Robin restaurant in November 2004. Lutz's attorney says his client's mental condition has been questionable since then, particularly in the weeks and days before the March 20 shooting.

Peacock says he didn't see any evidence of that in the files. Based on the records and his own memory, Peacock says he couldn't envision Lutz doing what he's accused of: Faking his own shooting.

"Certainly nothing in his career that would have forewarned us or made any sense of this allegation," Peacock said. Records of psychiatric evaluations required after the Red Robin shooting were not included in the report.

Then-Sheriff Rep. Rick Jones (R - Grand Ledge) has said Lutz was given proper mental health evaluations and treatment. The sheriff's department tells us those records are kept in a separate, private file.

Lutz, who is charged with two felonies in connection with the March 20 shooting, has been serving in the department for nearly 15 years. He is scheduled to appear in court for an evidence hearing two weeks from now. -- in Lansing.

Exclusive: Inside Sgt. Jeff Lutz's Personnel File
Posted: 6:55 PM Apr 12, 2006
Reporter: Tony Tagliavia

He claimed he was shot March 20. Now Eaton County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Lutz stands accused of having shot himself.

News 10 has an exclusive look at the records that detail Lutz's time at the department.

At more than 500 pages, Lutz's personnel records include praise for his conduct and praise for how he dealt with the public.

"Sergeant Lutz had an exemplary record until this incident. I think everybody in the sheriff's department was shocked when he was charged," Eaton County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Brian Peacock, who reviewed the report, said.

One thing that did come up repeatedly in the file: Superior officers telling Lutz to ease his workload.

"As a detective, he may have been taking on so many cases that it was difficult to conclude all of them," Peacock said.

But at first glance, the file contains nothing a lay person would interpret as a warning sign for what Lutz is accused of.

The 500-plus-page file contains the sergeant's entire personnel record, except for his social security number, according to the Eaton County Sheriff's Department.

There were no disciplinary reports in the file. The department says disciplinary matters could be removed after any punishment or disciplinary action had occurred. But Peacock says he can't recall any discipline incidents. He also says he doesn't see anything in the file to suggest the kind of action Lutz is accused of taking.

There were no reports of any race-related incidents in the file.

Chief Deputy Peacock says he doesn't recall any such incidents either.

More Details on Deputy Accused of Shooting Himself
Submitted by: Michigan Gun Owners

"The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office issued a four count felony warrant to Sheriff Sergeant Jeff Lutz."

"Investigators allege that Lutz shot himself while on duty just two weeks ago. I talked with Jeff Lutz's Attorney Mike Hocking. He wasn't able to tell me where exactly Lutz is, but he gave some background information to help us understand why the man is not a threat to the community."

... "Mike Hocking, Attorney: 'My client is in a treatment facility for a variety of reasons, many of the related to this case.'"

"He says Jeff Lutz sought treatment on his own. Hocking says, in the past ten years, Lutz has been involved in two other shootings while on duty. He's also going through divorce, and that's just some of the background ..."

MI: Warrant Issued for Local Deputy Who Was Shot
Submitted by: Michigan Gun Owners

"Mike Eagen, Chief Assistant Prosecutor: 'It becomes very distressing when a case like this comes about, I don't think it's easy for anyone.'"

"The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office issues charges against a sergeant with the sheriff's office. The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office issued a four county felony warrant for Sergeant Jeff Lutz. The charges Sergeant Jeff Lutz faces are making a false report of a felony, shooting at a police car, reckless use of a firearm and filing a false report to a police radio station."

"All of the charges allege his own involvement in shooting himself. Two weeks ago, Eaton County Sheriff Sergeant Jeff Lutz was shot while on duty, and now investigators believe they know who fired the gun." ...

Sheriff's Sergeant Charged With Felonies

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Press Release
April 03, 2006

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that, JEFFREY S. LUTZ, a sergeant with the Eaton County Sheriff Department, is being charged with:

· False Report of a Felony (felony),

· Firearm Discharge at Emergency Police Vehicle (felony),

· Reckless Use of a Firearm (misdemeanor), and

· False Report over a Police Radio Station (misdemeanor).

The shooting incident was reported to have occurred on March 20, 2006. It is a distressing situation for everyone involved.

However, the case is an example of one in which the police agencies involved acted in the highest of professional standards.

The Eaton County Sheriff Department started this investigation.

When it became apparent that there could be a possible conflict of interest the investigation was turned over to the Michigan State Police Major Crimes Unit.

Today's charges are a direct result of that State Police investigation.

Michigan Officer Shot At Traffic Stop
Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:27 PM GMT-05:00

Police are searching for a man who shot an Eaton County sheriff's deputy early Monday morning.

Sergeant Jeff Lutz was shot in the shoulder when he approached a man he thought looked suspicious.

Police say they're doing everything they can to catch this guy.

Right now, they're looking for a vehicle of interest. It's described as an older-model Cutlass, maybe 83 to 85, light in color, possibly grey.

Police called off an intense search for the gunman. They used a helicopter, tracking dogs and tactical teams to comb through neighborhoods and a nearby wooded area, but after cordoning off a large area near the crime scene, and a seven-hour effort, they believe the gunman got away.

Now, they're looking for clues in a surveillance video provided by a business near the crime scene. Shawn Sodman, owner of Game Hits: "We do have exterior cameras that have some footage of the perimeter of the store, and we're hoping, really hoping that they're going to be able to get something from that."

Sergeant Lutz is recovering and is expected to be OK. Police are working with him right now to put together a composite sketch of the gunman.

Eaton County Sheriff Department
March 20, 2006
UPDATE: April 4, 2006
Eaton County Sheriff Department News Releases

The Sheriff's Office is committed to fully supporting the Eaton County Prosecutors Office and the Investigators from the Michigan State Police as they continue to investigate this shooting.

Of course we are disappointed anytime the conduct of any of our members is called into question.

However, we will continue to support and cooperate with the investigation into the events of March 20.

While we take this matter very seriously, we are careful not to draw conclusions based on today's events alone.

We have full faith that the investigation will uncover the truth, and it will be resolved in a manner consistent with the best interest of the Eaton County community. Our mission remains, to protect and serve all of the citizens of Eaton County and we will not let these events distract us from that mission.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

03182006 - Deputy Bruce Beeker - Inappropriate Relationship With Woman Being Investigated - Leelanau County SD

March 18, 2006: Deputy Bruce Beeker, Leelanau County Sheriff Department.

In April 2006, Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf suspended Deputy Bruce Beeker, while he investigated an allegation that Beeker had an inappropriate relationship with a woman who was being investigated for domestic violence. Later that month, Deputy Beeker was fired from the department for misconduct.

Over the course of three-years, Sheriff Oltersdorf battled the Union and then lawsuits over his right to fire a law enforcement employee for misconduct.

It is scary to think that a Sheriff or Police Chief does not have the right to remove from duty an officer that they believe is not fit for duty or could pose a threat to the public.

Deputy Beeker resigned from the SD in February 2009, after he had been investigated for sending a sexually explicit email to another sheriff deputy [while on duty], on January 23, 2009.


Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf being Sworn-In by Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver

Cop case participants mostly mum over its effect after 3 years
February 13, 2012
The Leelanau News

For interim Leelanau County administrator David Gill, coming back to work this month was almost like stepping through a time warp.

“It was during my retirement party on Dec. 18, 2008, that somebody told me the Leelanau County Sheriff had just taken disciplinary action against a couple of his deputies for writing a letter to the editor that was critical of him,” Gill said this week. “I knew right then that Leelanau County would be off to the races for quite some time.

“It’s real unfortunate that three years later a federal lawsuit is still dragging on.”

After a three-year absence from Leelanau County, Gill resumed working for the county government part-time in November as the County Board looks for a replacement for the man who replaced Gill in 2009. Former county administrator Eric Cline resigned in September following a poor evaluation.

Gill had served as county administrator for more than seven years. Before that, he had a long career in law enforcement that included a 12- year stint as Leelanau County undersheriff that ended in an unsuccessful election bid for the sheriff’s office in 1984.

“This whole issue going on now in the sheriff’s department is a case where some guys should have just shut themselves into a room, closed the door, sat down together, and worked out their differences one way or another,” Gill said. “I just don’t know what to make of it all.”

The federal court lawsuit, filed in March 2009 against Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf, Undersheriff Scott Wooters and Leelanau County by several local deputies, was the culmination of a number of disputes going on in the sheriff’s office dating back to at least 2006.

That was the year the sheriff fired Deputy Bruce Beeker for alleged “severe misconduct.”

Beeker successfully challenged his firing through a long and contentious series of union actions, binding arbitration, and court hearings. At one point, Beeker was named as one of the plaintiffs in the 2009 federal lawsuit against the sheriff, although Beeker resigned and his name was removed from the suit.

The suit itself alleges that the sheriff, undersheriff and county government violated deputies’ civil rights by recording and listening to phone conversations the deputies believed were private. They were talking on government phone lines in the county Law Enforcement Center during duty hours. The suit also alleges that the deputies were retaliated against for their police union activities, and for exercising their free speech rights, among other complaints.

In the more than 33 months since the suit was filed, numerous delays have been encountered stemming from a variety of causes. No one knows when, or even if, the case will ever be heard by a jury.

Participants in the case were asked by an Enterprise reporter last week to comment on how delays in the case were affecting them.

None of the plaintiff deputies in the case responded to a request for comment forwarded through their attorneys. One of the deputies’ attorneys, Bill Rastetter, did respond — but only to say that he could not comment on the record. He referred a reporter instead to documents already filed in court.

The documents Rastetter referred to in particular pertained primarily to an upcoming hearing at which he will argue that the defendant’s attorneys have engaged in legal malpractice and should be removed from the case.

“Now that (three of the four remaining) plaintiffs in the case have been reinstated to their employment positions as Sheriff’s deputies with reimbursement of lost wages and benefits, an effort should be made to restore a good working relationship with their co-employer,” Rastetter wrote in a court document filed earlier this year.

Rastetter and his legal partner, attorney Mike Dettmer, have argued that the interests of Leelanau County as represented by the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners diverge from those of the sheriff and undersheriff, and the defendants should be represented separately.

Both Sheriff Oltersdorf and Undersheriff Wooters did respond to a request for comment:

“The Federal litigation has absolutely no impact on the day to day operation at the Sheriff’s Office,” Oltersdorf said in a prepared statement. “Everyone involved in the suit interacts daily and there is no adverse impact. We are all professionals and are getting along very well.

“Personally,” the sheriff added, “I don’t lose sleep over things I cannot control, but I am looking forward to having my day in court.”

Undersheriff Wooters agreed with that sentiment.

“I am anxious to have this matter aired in court and have a jury decide,” Wooters said. “So far, no one has really gotten the true essence of this story, and I want it to all come out in court.”

Only one of the seven members of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners responded to a request for comment on the effect of delays in the case.

District No. 3 commissioner Richard A. Schmuckal said he did not want to say anything that would jeopardize the county’s standing in the case.

“This litigation is too complicated and too sensitive for me to say much of anything about it,” Schmuckal said. “Generally, I support what we’re doing because I rely on our legal counsel for advice.”
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

When employment rules cloud proper judgment
Leelanau Enterprise News

Here are some questions that seem appropriate as the nearly three-year saga of now-resigned Deputy Bruce Beeker appears to have ended.

• Everybody has rights, but at what point do the rights of individuals tear at the ability of society to operate in an efficient manner?

• What is the cost — monetarily, emotionally and in sheer governmental paralysis — in maintaining a system of employment that bends so far toward the employee that discipline and job loss routinely become decisions made by arbitrators, judges and lawyers?

• How much respect for the law enforcement community is lost when clear transgressions in the professionalism of a deputy are turned into political circuses?

As you may remember, Deputy Beeker was fired by county Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf in April 2006 for “severe misconduct” — which started a lengthy appeals process that included a union arbitrator ruling he had been wrongfully discharged, three psychological evaluations, a circuit judge’s ruling, and a not-so-covert attempt on the part of fellow deputies to run Oltersdorf out of office in the August 2008 primary election. The deputies’ union gave Oltersdorf the “worst police administrator” award.

Oltersdorf had assembled a long line of breeches of conduct in Beeker’s personnel file, but the one that resulted in his dismissal was striking up a friendly relationship with a woman who had a connection in a domestic violence case he was investigating. When it’s all said and done, that doesn’t seem like a good thing for a police officer to do. Should Beeker have been fired? In our mind, that was up to the sheriff.

Turned out it was up to a whole lot of people empowered through the deputies’ union contract. The sheriff only had authority to start the process.

Eventually, both sides settled for a standoff — and Beeker was assigned a “desk job” for which he was paid a going wage for doing, basically, nothing. The sheriff couldn’t fire him, but wouldn’t issue him a firearm. The sheriff won the waiting game when Beeker apparently slipped with another transgression. The former deputy resigned shortly before he was to appear before a disciplinary hearing.

We’ll offer another example of how this system of deciding employment rules has been tipped upside down. Two Michigan State Police troopers from Cheboygan have pleaded guilty to poaching a trophy buck while on duty, using a state-issued firearm. Both received jail time, and were ordered to split $6,606 in restitution — penalties that would be assessed regardless of their professions.

But they won’t lose their jobs. Instead, they’ll be “transferred.”

Perhaps they should have been allowed to keep their jobs had they not lied about their activities when questioned. Instead, they cooked up a story. Do we really trust these professionals to tell the truth the next time they are asked to testify or complete a report to the detriment to a friend or fellow deputy?

Defense attorneys will have a field day.

They should have been fired. Or better yet, they should have resigned out of respect for the badges they carry.

We can only guess that their union-paid attorney worked out a better deal. We — the taxpayers of Michigan — are on the hook for $17,595,192 annually in union fees paid on behalf of state workers. The Michigan State Police Troopers Association alone received $1,125,392 in state payments, according to figures compiled by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

We know the vast majority of law enforcement officials work hard, put their lives on the line and rarely hear that they are appreciated. But they also can be overly protected through employment rules gone amuck, which hurts their image.

We expect criminals to do their time. There should be penalties, too, for police officers who fall short of professionalism, and those should include loss of employment.

Former Leelanau deputy's lawsuit dismissed
'A total win for the county'
The Record Eagle
Fri Nov 13, 2009, 08:13 AM EST

SUTTONS BAY -- Leelanau County doesn't have to pay additional arbitration costs stemming from a long-running dispute over a former deputy's employment, an appeals court said.

Leelanau Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired Deputy Bruce Beeker in April 2006 after he repeatedly made inappropriate contacts with a woman who assaulted her ex-boyfriend. Beeker, who responded to the assault, asked the woman to go four-wheeling with him and later called her dozens of times and visited her at home.

Beeker filed a grievance and ultimately returned to work in 2007 after a series of psychological evaluations, but was given a desk job. He quit in February amid his continued legal battle with the department.

The Michigan Court of Appeals in a ruling released this week said the county doesn't have to pay for the latest round of arbitration in the case, nor pay Beeker interest on back pay he received after his reinstatement.

"This is a total win for the county and the sheriff," county attorney John McGlinchey said.

McGlinchey estimates the ruling saves the county at least $2,000 in interest and arbitrator's fees. The county already paid about $4,500 in fees after the arbitrator's initial ruling.

The union sued the department after Beeker's reinstatement, claiming the department violated the arbitration ruling by refusing to give Beeker law enforcement duties, among other things.

The arbitrator also ordered the county to pay interest on back pay granted to Beeker at his rehire and pay half the cost of continuing arbitration.

Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Philip E. Rodgers dismissed the suit and wouldn't order the department to put Beeker on road patrol, contending an arbitrator doesn't have the authority to make such a demand.

Beeker on appeal contended the arbitrator acted within his authority, but the appeals court upheld the suit's dismissal and agreed that the arbitrator exceeded his authority, both in ordering interest and arbitration costs and in attempting to force the county to put Beeker on road patrol.

Oltersdorf couldn't be reached for comment. Beeker hadn't seen the ruling and declined comment.


Leelanau County hires new deputies
The Record Eagle
Thu Mar 26, 2009, 06:56 AM EDT

SUTTONS BAY -- The scenery won't much change for new Leelanau County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Bailey.

Bailey worked for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians' police department for about 10 years, and attained the rank of captain. He and new Leelanau Deputy Matt Green began work last weekend, and both said they're excited to join the department.

"I just wanted to be a part of a great group of people," Bailey, 30, said.

Green, 39, worked at Home Depot before finally deciding to chase his lifelong goal of becoming a police officer. He graduated from Northwestern Michigan College's police academy in 2006, and his new job marks his first try at full-time police work.

"My wife said, 'You always wanted to be a cop, why don't you pursue it?'" Green said.

Bailey and Green replace Chris Roberts and Bruce Beeker. Beeker recently resigned from the department amid allegations he sent a sexual e-mail to a fellow employee, and Roberts was fired after Grand Traverse County authorities arrested him for drunken driving last month.

Beeker's e-mail, sent while on duty Jan. 23, contained a video of naked women washing a car, according to an internal investigation obtained by the Record-Eagle under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. The employee who received it reported it to administrators, who launched an investigation.

Beeker resigned Feb. 20, the same day a disciplinary hearing was scheduled. He had been on desk duty after a lengthy labor dispute stemming from inappropriate contact he had with a female assault suspect in early 2006.

Roberts caused a crash while driving drunk on U.S. 31 near Meijer Feb. 3, and Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired him Feb. 25. He eventually pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of operating while intoxicated on March 3 and was sentenced to six months probation.

Oltersdorf is happy with his two new hires, which will bring his road patrol unit back to full staffing levels.

"They're both very high-caliber, good family men with roots in the community," he said. "They're outstanding officers.

'Offensive' email led to resignation
The Leelanau News

An “obscene, sexually offensive” email sent to a co-worker appears to be at the heart of why Leelanau County Deputy Sheriff Bruce Beeker abruptly resigned last month.

Beeker resigned on Feb. 20 just hours before Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf had scheduled a disciplinary hearing over allegations that Beeker forwarded the email to another deputy while both deputies were on duty.

Circumstances behind Beeker’s resignation came to light this week after the Leelanau Enterprise received documents it had requested on Feb. 24 from the Sheriff’s Office under the state Freedom of Information Act. Citing state law, undersheriff Scott Wooters requested a 10-day extension of time to release the documents, ostensibly to seek a legal opinion about which documents could be released.

The name of the deputy to whom Beeker allegedly forwarded the email was blacked-out in a five-page investigation report the Enterprise received in response to its request. The report notes that the other deputy reported the incident to the undersheriff shortly after it occurred in January 2009. The deputy told Wooters that he was “very offended” by what was contained in Beeker’s email.

According to the investigation report, Beeker brought his personal laptop computer in to work on Jan. 23 and used it to forward the email from his personal address to the other deputy’s personal address, which the other deputy could access from a computer at work. Both deputies were able to access their personal email accounts using the free wireless Internet service available to any member of the public on the county Government Center campus.

The report indicates that Beeker was confronted by the other deputy over the email; and Beeker expressed surprise that the other deputy had not waited until going home to open the email.

The email included images of naked women washing cars involved in sexually explicit conduct, according to the investigation report.

Wooters interviewed Beeker during his investigation. According to the investigation report: “Beeker said it is common for him to receive emails which he described as ‘funny’ from people and mail them back and forth.”

The incident leading to Beeker’s planned disciplinary hearing last month is not the first time he had been accused of severe misconduct, including sexual harassment. In April 2006, the sheriff fired Beeker for having an inappropriate relationship with a suspect in a domestic violence case. But Beeker filed a union grievance that resulted in an arbitrator’s ruling that he be returned to his $42,000 per year job with back pay.

In August 2007, the sheriff put Beeker back to work in a “desk job” but denied him a badge, a gun, or any law enforcement duties. Another union grievance led to a 13th Circuit Court case in which Judge Philip E. Rodgers Jr. threw out the union’s assertion that the arbitrator’s ruling had not been carried out according to law.

At the time, Rodgers opined that the arbitrator’s opinion “belittled domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.” The judge added that the arbitrator “not only missed the point, but he also demonstrated that he is just as base as Beeker.”

Beeker did not respond to an email request for comment from the Enterprise.

Deputy resigns over 'severe misconduct'
February 27, 2009

SUTTONS BAY -- Leelanau County sheriff's Deputy Bruce Beeker quit.

Beeker unexpectedly resigned Feb. 20, Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf said, a few hours before a scheduled disciplinary hearing. Oltersdorf wouldn't provide specifics, but said the hearing involved alleged "severe misconduct" on Beeker's part.

Oltersdorf fired Beeker in April 2006 after he repeatedly made inappropriate contacts with a woman who assaulted her ex-boyfriend. Beeker, who responded to the assault, asked the woman to go four-wheeling with him and later called her dozens of times and visited her at home.

An arbitrator eventually ordered the department to re-hire Beeker, but Oltersdorf didn't give him patrol duties after the re-hire. He was given a desk job and remained there until his resignation.

Last year, Beeker and the police union unsuccessfully sued the department in an attempt to force Oltersdorf to give Beeker patrol work.

Judge tosses Deputy Beeker's lawsuit
Rodgers won't issue order to take him off desk duty
Traverse City Record
April 15, 2008

SUTTONS BAY -- A judge dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of Leelanau County sheriff's deputy Bruce Beeker and refused to issue an order that would return him to patrol duties.

Circuit Court Judge Philip E. Rodgers' decision means Beeker will remain on desk duty, where he has worked since the department rehired him in August after a labor dispute.

Leelanau Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired Beeker, 39, in April 2006 after he repeatedly made inappropriate contacts with a woman who assaulted her ex-boyfriend. Beeker, who responded to the assault, asked the woman to go four-wheeling with him and later called her dozens of times and visited her at home.

Arbitrator E. Frank Cornelius eventually ordered the department to reinstate Beeker, contending the department didn't have a good reason to fire him, based on the Police Officers Association of Michigan contract with the sheriff's department.

Beeker ultimately returned to work after a series of psychological evaluations, but he was given a desk job.

The POAM then sued the department and Oltersdorf, claiming the department violated the arbitration ruling by refusing to give Beeker law enforcement duties, among other things.

Rodgers lashed out at Beeker and Cornelius in a written opinion issued Monday. He said Cornelius was biased and at times "unconscionable," and he called Beeker's conduct "totally inappropriate."

Rodgers said neither Cornelius nor the union has the authority to order the department to give Beeker law enforcement duties. He called portions of Cornelius' opinions "off the rail," and said Cornelius repeatedly tried to downplay Beeker's behavior.

"Rather than address the issue before him, the arbitrator went to great lengths to find that either Beeker did not do that which he had already admitted doing or to minimize the significance of Beeker's conduct," Rodgers wrote.

Oltersdorf said the union wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars by pursuing the issue.

"The sad thing about this is they knew what the end result was going to be," he said.

POAM attorney George J. Mertz did not return a call for comment.

Judge on Beeker case: "It's like a medieval fair."
Leelanau Enterprise
April 14, 2008
Posted By Eric Carlson

Although 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip E. Rodgers Jr. was expected to render a formal, written opinion later this week, some of his personal opinions about a local police union's demand that Bruce Beeker be returned to full duty as a Leelanau County Sheriff's Deputy are now clear.

The Beeker issue and a union arbitrator’s opinions about it “seem like a medieval fair with ducks and pigs running around – it’s crass,” the judge said from the bench Monday morning during a hearing on a lawsuit filed by the Police Officers Association of Michigan against Leelanau County and Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf.

The judge added that he was personally “offended” and “embarassed” by opinions rendered in February and June of last year by union arbitrator E. Frank Cornelius, who ordered that Beeker be put back on the county’s payroll and returned to duty after the sheriff fired Beeker in April 2006 for “severe misconduct.” The judge said it appeared to him that the arbitrator’s opinions were written by “somebody recently off their medication.”

Rodgers said he believed that if Leelanau Enterprise readers had been exposed to all of the arbitrator’s opinions they would be “shocked” both by Beeker’s conduct as a deputy and by the arbitrator’s opinions about it. An unscientific, online poll conducted by the Enterprise recently indicated substantial public support for returning Beeker to full duty as a sheriff’s deputy.

Beeker was fired by the sheriff in April 2006 after befriending a woman under investigation on a domestic violence charge. In addition, a number of other examples of Beeker’s alleged misconduct were cited in the arbitrator’s opinions.

The February 2007 arbitrator’s opinion refers to a recorded conversation that Beeker had with a male 9-1-1 dispatcher that appeared to suggest the dispatcher may have performed oral sex on a female dispatcher he was working with. The arbitrator characterized the exchange as “playful banter” and wrote that “Any attempt to halt this type of repartee between policemen is likely to prove as successful as trying to stop them from eating donuts.”

The arbitrator also offered his opinion that, during his meeting with Beeker, the deputy “came across as distant, detached, spacey, not all quite there.”

Cornelius continued, “His (Beeker’s) sometimes erratic behavior and inconsistent job performance seem almost bipolar or schizoid (in a colloquial sense, inasmuch as the arbitrator is no clinician.)” The arbitrator said he agreed with the sheriff that Beeker needed counseling, and ordered a psychological evaluation.

“On his own,” the judge noted Monday, Cornelius “makes a psychological diagnosis and orders an evaluation that nobody asked for. How does he do that?” the judge asked rhetorically.

In addition, in his June 2007 opinion, arbitrator Cornelius criticized one of the psychologists who performed a “fitness for duty” evaluation of Beeker, and accused the psychologist of lacking a sense of humor and using a “politically correct notion of ‘sexual harassment’” to judge Beeker’s conduct. The arbitrator made several literary references in his opinion, ranging from Shakespeare’s Othello to TV shows such as Sex in the City.

Rodgers opined from the bench that he believes some of Beeker’s conduct as a deputy might have been “actionable under state law,” and that the arbitrator’s opinions about Beeker’s conduct reminded him of “handlers for Bill Clinton talking about Monica Lewinsky.”

The ongoing lawsuit in the case stems from a union grievance Beeker filed shortly after he was returned to the county payroll but placed in a “desk job” in the sheriff’s office without law enforcement duties. The union’s suit calls for the county to uphold the arbitrator’s ruling as the union sees it – that is, to return Beeker to full duty – and to pay the arbitrator nearly $1,200 for his services.

“Personally, I don’t think that anybody ought to be required to pay for that,” the judge said Monday, referring to the arbitrator’s opinion. The judge said he was expressing his personal opinion, however; and he expected to render a formal, written opinion on the issue as a matter of law “later this week.”

Meanwhile, Beeker remains assigned to a “complaints desk” in the sheriff’s outer office and appears to be doing little work while still collecting his $44,532 annual salary.

Beeker filed another grievance in January – but another union arbitrator, Kenneth P. Frankland, denied the grievance. Frankland noted that although Cornelius had ordered that Beeker be put back on the county’s payroll, only the Sheriff can decide under state law who will be deputized and given law enforcement authority.

Arbitrator Frankland’s $2,258 bill for considering the grievance is to be split by the county and the police union.

Last month, Beeker filed yet another union grievance, complaining that although he had returned to work, the sheriff had failed to notify the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards that he had been returned to duty. The sheriff has responded to the grievance by formally notifying MCOLES of Beeker’s status and asserting that no union grievance was warranted.

Deputy's 'desk job' status not impacting overtime
March 24, 2008
Leelanau Enterprise
Eric Carlson (

Undersheriff says overtime increase not tied to Beeker.

The Leelanau County Sheriff's Department appears to be holding the line on expenses for overtime pay for deputies - despite the fact that one of the deputies in the department, Bruce Beeker, has been forbidden from carrying out any law enforcement duties.

Earlier this month, the Enterprise filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Leelanau County Clerk’s office asking for payroll information related to overtime hours and payments to road patrol officers over the past two years.

Records provided show that overtime hours and pay varied little between the first five pay periods of 2007 and the first five pay periods of 2008. During the first part of 2007, deputies worked 310 overtime hours compared to 327 during the same period in 2008. Overtime payments for the same period in 2007 totaled $9,456, and $10,821 in 2008.

The 5.2 percent increase in overtime hours and the 12.6 percent increase in overtime pay during those periods are most likely attributable to a variety of causes unrelated to Beeker’s return to the Sheriff’s Department, according to undersheriff Scott Wooters.

Beeker was ordered back on the payroll of the Sheriff’s Department in August after a federal arbitrator ruled in favor of a union grievance asserting that Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf had “wrongfully terminated” the deputy for befriending a woman who was under investigation in a domestic violence case.

The sheriff has since assigned Beeker to a “desk job” that keeps Beeker off the road, in civilian clothes, without a badge, unarmed – and unable to work any overtime or collect any overtime pay above his $44,532 annual salary.

A second grievance filed by Beeker’s’ union, the Police Officers Association of Michigan, asserted that Beeker was being unfairly denied the opportunity to work overtime. But a federal arbitrator earlier this month denied the grievance, noting that overtime is available only to employees with law enforcement authority – and that the sheriff has an unquestionable right under the State Constitution to deny law enforcement authority to anyone.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed by the union against Leelanau County and the sheriff to resolve issues related primarily to the first grievance remains pending in Circuit Court in Leelanau County.

Police Officers Association of Michigan business agent Pat Spidell of Leelanau County said that Beeker has lost over 175 hours in potential overtime opportunities since he was returned to the payroll in the Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s not that Beeker can’t work or isn’t qualified to work overtime as a deputy,” Spidell said. “It’s only because the sheriff says he can’t. As a union representative, I understand the sheriff’s legal rights in this matter. But as a Leelanau County resident and a taxpayer, I wish the sheriff would just get off this political crap and do his job. He should put Bruce Beeker back on the road,” Spidell said.

Beeker, for his part, has declined to make any on-the-record comments to the Enterprise.

Wooters noted that the Sheriff’s Department is not currently “overstaffed” as a result of Beeker’s return to the payroll or any other reason.

Wooters pointed out that a sergeant who retired from the department in August has not been replaced. That sergeant’s presence in the department overlapped with Beeker’s return to the department for only two weeks, Wooters said – the only period when the department actually was “overstaffed.”

The undersheriff explained that the number of overtime hours worked and the amount of overtime paid to road patrol deputies fluctuates routinely – and that any increase noted in payroll figures between the first five pay periods of 2007 and 2008 could most likely be attributed to those routine fluctuations.

In the current instance, Wooters said, a veteran road patrol deputy who retired recently has been replaced with a rookie who is still in training. Training the new deputy requires that another deputy go out on patrol with him – resulting in slightly more overtime paid to deputies so far this year.

Wooters also noted that another deputy had been injured recently in an off-duty athletic event and has been off work for a number of weeks, also requiring that other deputies work slightly more overtime than usual.

Beeker case arguments heard
February 04, 2008
The Leelanau Enterprise

Attorneys for Leelanau County and the Police Officers Association of Michigan met with a union arbitrator last week as part of a continuing dispute between Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf and the union representing a deputy who the sheriff has been unable to fire permanently.

Oltersdorf fired Deputy Bruce Beeker in April 2006 after the deputy was accused of “severe misconduct” for befriending a woman who was under investigation in a domestic violence case. A union arbitrator subsequently ruled that Beeker was wrongfully terminated and ordered that he be returned to duty if he could pass a psychological evaluation.

Beeker failed one test, passed another, and then in August 2007 passed a third tie-breaking psychological evaluation. In keeping with an arbitration agreement, Beeker was returned to duty with the Sheriff’s Department with back pay and benefits. Beeker’s annual salary is about $42,000.

However, Oltersdorf has refused to issue Beeker a badge or gun, or allowed him to wear a uniform. Since late August, Beeker has been manning a “complaints desk” in the Sheriff’s outer office.

In September, Beeker filed a union grievance claiming he had been prevented from working overtime and receiving overtime pay as allowed by a union contract, and that he had been prevented from entering a squad room where overtime and other notices are placed on bulletin boards.

In November 2007, the Police Officers Association of Michigan filed a complaint in Circuit Court in Leelanau County against the county and Oltersdorf.

An attorney for the sheriff and Leelanau County, John R. McGlinchy of Lansing, told the Enterprise this week that a union arbitrator last week heard arguments from attorneys representing both sides of the dispute. He said that attorneys would be required to submit written post-hearing arguments in the coming weeks, possibly leading to a ruling by the arbitrator sometime in the coming months.

McGlinchy said he expected the arbitrator to rule on at least two issues. One issue involves the union grievance itself – specifically, that Beeker was prevented from seeking overtime as allowed by the union contract.

The other issue to be considered by the arbitrator, McGlinchy said, involves the sheriff’s statutory authority to deputize certain individuals – or not deputize them – as well the sheriff’s statutory authority to assign Sheriff’s Department personnel to certain duties as he sees fit.

McGlinchy explained that the arbitrator would be required to rule on whether the sheriff’s statutory authority in those cases can even be the subject of arbitration.

An attorney for the Police Officers Association of Michigan did not return a reporter’s phone call.

Union sues county, sheriff
Reinstate deputy to law enforcement role, suit demand.
Leelanau Enterprise
November 19, 2007

The Police Officers Association of Michigan has filed suit against Leelanau County and Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf because of how the sheriff has handled disciplinary issues involving deputy Bruce Beeker.

The suit, filed Nov. 13 in Circuit Court in Leelanau County, calls on the court to enforce an arbitrator’s award “requiring reinstatement” of Beeker to law enforcement duties, according to court documents. The police union’s suit also calls on the county to pay Beeker an unspecified amount that was awarded to him by the arbitrator, plus other costs.

In April 2006, Oltersdorf fired Beeker after the deputy was accused of “severe misconduct” for befriending a woman who was under investigation in a domestic violence case. Beeker appealed his firing through the police officers union.

Following a series of psychological exams ordered by a union arbitrator, Beeker returned to work in the Sheriff’s Office in August – but in a “desk job,” wearing civilian clothes and carrying neither a badge nor a gun.

“The demand to put Mr. Beeker in uniform and back on patrol is without legal authority,” Oltersdorf said Wednesday morning after he was served with a copy of the suit.

“As sheriff, my responsibility is to sit in judgment of all employees and make decision based upon what is best for the citizens of Leelanau County. Mr. Beeker would still be assigned to patrol duties had he not violated rules and regulations … When officers make mistakes or use bad judgment, people get hurt,” the sheriff said.

In the suit, attorneys for the police officers union wrote that in February 2007 a union arbitrator ruled that Beeker “was to be made whole, including back pay benefits, seniority and any other emoluments of employment which he would have enjoyed had he not been terminated.”

The suit claims that the county has failed to live up to its requirements under a collective bargaining agreement with the union, and has refused to pay its contractual share of the arbitration costs.

“The economic demands in this suit will be handled by the county administrator who will confer with the county’s attorney regarding the legal requirements,” Oltersdorf said.

Oltersdorf said that in September Beeker filed a grievance demanding overtime compensation for patrol shifts even though he is assigned to desk duty.

“During my 36 years of law enforcement service, including 11 years as sheriff,” Oltersdorf added, “I have never been sued by a prisoner or a member of the public. It is very disappointing to be sued by the deputies union whose attorneys are located in southeast Michigan representing the interests of one employee who cannot have his way,” the sheriff said.

Neither Beeker nor a union representative could immediately be reached for comment.

Union: Lawsuit likely over deputy's new role
Leelanau Enterprise
September 24, 2007

The union representing Leelanau County sheriff's deputies will likely sue Leelanau County over how deputy Bruce Beeker has been treated since he was returned to duty in the Sheriff's Office last month, according to a union attorney.

Attorney Douglas M. Gutscher of the Police Officers Association of Michigan told the Enterprise this week that Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf has willfully violated a union contract by assigning Beeker to “non-police work.”

Beeker was fired by the Sheriff in April 2006 after the deputy was accused of “severe misconduct” for befriending a woman who was under investigation in a domestic violence case. A union arbitrator ruled that Beeker was wrongfully terminated and ordered that he be returned to duty if he could pass a psychological evaluation. Beeker failed one test arranged by the Sheriff’s office, passed another arranged by himself, then passed a third “tie-breaking” psychological evaluation in August.

Since the end of August, Beeker has been assigned a “desk job” in the Sheriff’s Office. He carries no weapon, and wears neither a badge nor a gun. His duties are limited to answering the phone, administering breath tests to probationers, fingerprinting civilians, registering handguns, and other tasks.

“Bruce Beeker’s current assignment is unacceptable and in clear violation of the collective bargaining agreement,” Gutscher wrote in a Sept. 11 letter to an attorney representing Leelanau County, John McGlinchy.

A copy of Gutscher’s letter was faxed anonymously to the Leelanau Enterprise and to Oltersdorf. In a phone conversation with a reporter, Gutscher confirmed that the letter was genuine.

Oltersdorf pointed out that the letter was addressed to the county’s attorney and not to the sheriff’s office. “This was a communication between two attorneys and it just wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on it,” Oltersdorf said.

Undersheriff Scott Wooters said he had tried to contact McGlinchy about the letter, but the county’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.

According to the police union attorney’s letter, “Deputy Beeker is still owed back pay for the interim period from the first psychological evaluation through the final psychological evaluation and now your client (the Leelanau County Sheriff) has decided to play childish games,” Gutscher wrote.

“The Sheriff’s current course of conduct will undoubtedly result in additional costs to the taxpayers of Leelanau County and more publicity regarding this matter,” Gutscher wrote. “I’m sure your client will eventually have to answer for his actions and explain why the taxpayers are paying for a deputy but not receiving any real value.”

Beeker earns about $42,000 per year, plus benefits.

“The Sheriff has repeatedly been found to impose excessive discipline upon Deputy Beeker,” Gutscher wrote. “This discipline has repeatedly been overturned through the arbitration process and yet he is still being singled out. The Sheriff’s exercise of ‘power’ in the present matter appears to be purely retaliatory, arbitrary and capricious and a blatant violation of the arbitration award and the (collective bargaining agreement),” Gutscher wrote.

Gutscher added that Beeker had broken no laws, but that the sheriff’s department still “employs individuals including Law Enforcement Deputies who have criminal convictions.”

A sheriff’s deputy who pleaded guilty to drunk driving in 2005 remains with the department.

In late August when Beeker was returned to duty, Oltersdorf noted that union officials have a responsibility to their members.

“But I am responsible to all the citizens of Leelanau County,” the sheriff said. “I have assigned Mr. Beeker the duties he has – and do not plan to give him any other assignment – because of my responsibility to the citizens of Leelanau County.”

“We expect to file suit shortly,” said Gutscher.

Suspended sergeant, deputy returning to work this week
Leelanau News

A sergeant and a deputy in the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department were returning to work Tuesday after having been suspended for a week by Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf for what the sheriff termed “personal” reasons rather than “public safety” reasons.

Sgt. Jim Kiessel and Deputy Mike Bankey were suspended from duty for 40 hours following a disciplinary

hearing on Dec. 16. Oltersdorf had accused the two of making “false, public accusations of unlawful conduct by the Leelanau County Sheriff.”

In union grievances filed shortly after their suspensions, Kiessel and Bankey indicated that they had been “talked to by the sheriff and undersheriff” about a letter they “allegedly co-authored” on June 28 that subsequently appeared in a regional daily newspaper.

Earlier in the year, Kiessel and another sergeant, Mike Lamb, had filed a complaint with the FBI alleging that the sheriff, undersheriff and jail administrator were “wire-tapping” and illegally eavesdropping on employees’ “private” phone conversations on government phone lines in the county Law Enforcement Center. The Michigan State Police conducted an investigation and determined that the sheriff had broken no laws; and that employees should have no expectation of privacy when using phones designated “for official use only.”

On June 27, Kiessel, Bankey and their union business agent, Pat Spidell, sat down with an Enterprise reporter for an exclusive interview about the subject that appeared on Page One in the newspaper’s July 3 edition. During the interview, all three stressed that their concerns about the sheriff were “not about politics,” but, rather, about whether Sheriff’s Office employees were being treated fairly.

At the time of the June interview, Oltersdorf was facing an Aug. 5 Primary Election challenge from a sitting county commissioner, Mark Walter. Oltersdorf beat Walter with nearly 63 percent of the vote for the Republican nomination for reelection as sheriff. He ran virtually unopposed in the Nov. 4 General Election, easily defeating a write-in candidate who earned less than one-percent of the vote.

Kiessel and Bankey are no longer listed as local union representatives. A Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM) union grievance filed on behalf of Kiessel was signed by Lamb. A Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) union grievance filed on behalf of Bankey was signed by Deputy Duane Wright. The business agent for both unions, Spidell, did not return a reporter’s phone call on deadline for this week’s newspaper.

Undersheriff Scott Wooters quoted from a letter that Oltersdorf had sent to Kiessel and Bankey in connection with their disciplinary proceeding: “While you have a right to express your opinions on matters of public concern,” Oltersdorf wrote, “you do not have the right to make false, public accusations of unlawful conduct by the Leelanau County sheriff. Such reckless disregard for the truth cannot be tolerated, particularly by a law enforcement officer. Therefore, severe discipline is warranted.”

The sheriff ordered Kiessel and Bankey to “surrender their departmental identification, door key card, firearms, and vehicles. They will have no law enforcement authority during the suspension. Nor will they have access to the employee areas of the Law Enforcement Center or Jail,” the sheriff wrote. The two were also barred from appearing at a departmental swearing-in ceremony and meeting held Monday morning.

Kiessel and Bankey were suspended from work without pay for the normal 40-hour work week, with no overtime authorized. Kiessel was eligible to return to work at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23; and Bankey was eligible to return to work at 2:30 p.m. the same day.

Union grievances filed by the two officers assert that their suspensions were administered “without just cause.” They demanded that the suspensions be rescinded, and they be “made whole” including receiving the pay and other benefits they lost during the one-week suspension.

Asked why it took Oltersdorf until this month to discipline the two officers for actions they took in June, Wooters responded that the timing of the suspension was “due to circumstances beyond our control that will probably come out in arbitration.”

Wooters added that the suspensions did not require any other officers to receive overtime pay or result in any substantial changes in shift assignments.

The department already has one more deputy than the sheriff wants on his staff – Bruce Beeker. Oltersdorf fired Beeker in 2006 for starting a relationship with a suspect in a domestic violence case, but the deputy won his job back last year through union arbitration.

The sheriff has relegated Beeker to a desk job with no law enforcement authority, however – and Beeker’s status is a continuing source of friction in the department, according to a department employee who asked not to be named.

Fired deputy set to return
Third exam shows he's fit for duty.
Leelanau Enterprise
August 26, 2007

Leelanau County Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Beeker – who was fired by the sheriff more than a year ago – is expected to report for duty at the county Law Enforcement Center in Suttons Bay Township on Monday.

In April 2006, Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired Beeker after the deputy was accused of “severe misconduct” for befriending a woman who was under investigation in a domestic violence case.

Beeker appealed his firing through the police officers union. In April 2007, a union arbitrator ordered that Beeker be reinstated to his job pending a determination from a psychologist hired by the county that Beeker was “fit for duty.”

But Beeker failed the psychological exam. Beeker then exercised his right under the binding arbitration ruling to undergo a second psychological evaluation – this time from a psychiatrist of his own choosing. Beeker passed that exam.

The union arbitrator then ordered that Beeker should undergo a third, “tie-breaking” psychological evaluation.

Beeker underwent the third psychological evaluation earlier this month. The results of the evaluation were delivered to Oltersdorf just hours after the final deadline for last week’s edition of the Enterprise.

Beeker passed the third psychological evaluation. According to the union arbitrator’s ruling, Oltersdorf was required to put Beeker back to work in the Sheriff’s Department immediately.

Earlier this week Oltersdorf directed Sgt. Gerald Roush to hand deliver a letter to Beeker at home, directing Beeker to return to work on Monday, Aug. 27.

The sheriff’s selection of Roush to deliver the news to Beeker may not have been coincidental. With Beeker’s return, the Sheriff’s Department will be over its authorized staffing level. The vacancy created by Beeker’s firing more than a year ago has long been filled.

But Roush – a longtime veteran of the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department – is slated to retire early next month. If Beeker stays with the department after Roush retires, another deputy will likely be promoted to sergeant and the department’s staffing level will be on target even with Beeker back on the payroll.

In addition to a sheriff and undersheriff, the department is authorized to have three sergeants and 13 deputies.

Oltersdorf told the Enterprise late last week that he hoped to speak with county administrator David Gill and the chairman of the county board of commissioners, Robert Hawley, about “the Beeker question” before taking definitive action. However, Gill was out of town until Tuesday evening. The three were slated to meet sometime Wednesday, Aug. 22, to discuss how Beeker might be employed in the Sheriff’s Department – as well as other issues related to the sheriff’s budget and the overall county budget.

The union arbitrator earlier this year, ordered that Beeker be awarded back pay to cover the period from his firing in April 2006 through April 2007 – more than $41,000. The county’s legal bill at the time for handling the Beeker case was around $7,000. In addition, the union arbitrator charged the county $5,000; the psychologist charged the county $2,900.

Since then, additional expenses have been incurred in the case – but have not all been added up yet, according to county officials.

As part of a special budget work session held Wednesday, Aug. 15, the county board decided by consensus to draft a memo to the Sheriff “requesting that he not fill any vacancies until the Beeker situation is resolved.”

At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening, the county board voted 5-1, with District No. 2 commissioner Mark Walter absent and District No. 3 commissioner Will Bunek opposed, to send the memo to the sheriff.

Following the meeting, Bunek said he voted “no” because the memo didn’t explicitly say the sheriff must stay within his authorized staffing level.

Beeker was present at the Tuesday evening County Board of Commissioners meeting, but offered no comment.

Earlier Tuesday, Beeker told an Enterprise reporter that he hoped to be reinstated to the same job he was doing in the Sheriff’s Department in April 2006 – as a law enforcement deputy on road patrol.

Oltersdorf has suggested, however, that Beeker may be assigned a “desk job,” at least initially.

“I fought for what I believed in every step of the way,” Beeker told the Enterprise. “I’m very appreciative of the incredible support I’ve received from my family, friends and co-workers. I’m also very grateful to the union for the wonderful job it has done,” he added.

“There’s only one road I’m taking on this,” Beeker said, “and it’s the high one.”

Ex-deputy passes final review
August 17, 2007

SUTTONS BAY — Bruce Beeker soon will be back on the beat.

The former Leelanau County sheriff's deputy recently passed a second of three "fitness for duty” psychological reviews, a result that's expected to settle a lengthy labor dispute between the Police Officers Association of Michigan and the sheriff's department.

Beeker, 38, underwent a final and binding psychological review Aug. 4 in Oakland County and received the results this week, he said.

"I hope it's over. I thought it was over a long time ago,” Beeker said, adding he is "excited” to return to work. "I thank my family, friends and co-workers for their support. It's been the toughest thing that I have ever had to go through.”

Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired the 11-year department veteran in April 2006 after an internal investigation determined Beeker violated his oath of office and code of conduct by having inappropriate contact with a woman who was a suspect in an assault case he investigated.

Beeker filed a union grievance and a federal arbitrator in February ruled he should be reinstated pending a successful psychological review.

In April, a psychologist deemed Beeker unfit for duty, but Beeker sought a second opinion a month later. The psychiatrist selected by Beeker subsequently ruled in his favor.

The POAM and Leelanau County attorney John McGlinchey then mutually selected a third psychologist for the final "tie-breaker” exam. McGlinchey did not return messages seeking comment.

Oltersdorf received the test results Wednesday and said Beeker likely will be back to work Aug. 20. He plans to meet with county officials early next week to discuss how to handle overstaffing in the department.

"When he comes back we will be one person over our authorized positions,” Oltersdorf said. Beeker's job responsibilities also must be determined.

"He is not automatically going back as a patrol officer. That is not a given,” he said. "We are going to look at the alternatives and look at everyone's input as to where to assign him.”

POAM representative Pat Spidell said the union is "happy for Mr. Beeker that this matter is going to come to a final conclusion and he is going to preserve his job.”

Back pay and arbitration fees remain a matter of contention and Beeker may be entitled to interest on those wages, Spidell said.

"There is a question of interim pay and I am not sure how that is going to be resolved yet,” he said.

County officials referred questions about Beeker's potential back pay to administrator David Gill, who is on vacation until Monday.

"He was given back pay up to and through his first evaluation ... so what happens now, I'm not sure,” Oltersdorf said.

Fired deputy will undergo a third psychological exam
Leelanau Enterprise, MI
July 6, 2007

A Leelanau County sheriff's deputy who was fired more than a year ago will take a third psychological examination sometime later this month to determine whether he is fit for duty.

A union arbitrator has urged Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf and fired deputy Bruce Beeker to “not make a federal case” out of results of Beeker’s next psychological evaluation – no matter how it turns out.

“The arbitrator respectfully urges the parties to settle this case, as the whole situation is spirals downward,” wrote union arbitrator E. Frank Cornelius.

The arbitrator said that from his perspective “the animosity between (Oltersdorf and Beeker) appears to be so great as to cast doubt upon their ability to work together effectively. It seems that (Beeker) may be in (Oltersdorf’s) crosshairs and that it could be just a matter of time before (Beeker) is terminated again for some real or imagined infraction,” the arbitrator wrote.

“Moreover, even if the opinion of a third physician is obtained, and even if that tie breaking physician were to side with (Oltersdorf), all manner of Americans with Disabilities Act and Medical and Family Leave Act issues might arise. … The case could take on a life of its own,” Cornelius wrote.

Nonetheless, the arbitrator ruled last month that Beeker is “entitled to a third, tie-breaking opinion” on whether he is fit for duty. In April, Beeker failed an exam conducted by a psychologist hired by the county. In May, however, Beeker underwent a psychological evaluation from a psychiatrist he selected himself – and passed.

Beeker was fired from the Sheriff’s Department after an internal investigation was conducted and the sheriff accused Beeker of “severe misconduct” for befriending a woman who was under investigation. The woman subsequently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault.

A member of the Police Officers Association of Michigan, Beeker challenged his firing – leading to the union arbitrator’s April ruling that he should be reinstated to duty as long as he passed a psychological exam. Beeker failed the county exam, but then received a “second opinion” in his favor.

“It’s important to note that the exam they had me take earlier this year was conducted by a psychologist, not a psychiatrist,” Beeker told the Enterprise.“But I had a right to obtain that second opinion – which I did from a psychiatrist – a medical doctor whose opinion trumps that of a psychologist,” Beeker said.

The June 11 arbitrator’s opinion also asserted that Beeker is “entitled to be put back on the payroll” because there had been no “final” determination as to his fitness for duty.

“Because the arbitrator finds that the Employer has acted unreasonably,” Cornelius wrote, “Grievant is awarded statutory interest on all back pay, dating from his most recent termination.”

A county official said that – as of July 2 – Beeker had not been put back on the county payroll.“What effect has all this been having on the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department?” Oltersdorf asked rhetorically. “Very little.”

“Even if it’s determined that Mr. Beeker should be returned to duty, there’s nothing that dictates exactly how I should employ him,” the sheriff said. “In the meantime, nothing has changed. My staff is at full strength now and we are satisfied that the department is configured as it should be.”

Oltersdorf stressed that the decision he made more than a year ago to fire Beeker was based in input from the undersheriff, the three sergeants in the sheriff’s department, and the county administrator.

“This was not a capricious or unreasoned decision,” Oltersdorf said. “Right now, we’re just waiting for the next evaluation to be completed, and we’ll take it from there. If the determination is made that Mr. Beeker must be reinstated, we will consider very carefully where he will be placed in our department so as to avoid any liability or public concern.”

'Unfit' deputy may challenge psych exam
Leelanau Enterprise
May 01, 2007

A Leelanau County sheriff's deputy who lost his job on Monday because he was found by a psychologist to be "unfit for duty" has hinted that he won’t go quietly, and may seek an "unbiased opinion" from another psychologist.

Bruce Beeker was fired by Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf more than a year ago after Undersheriff Scott Wooters conducted an internal investigation into Beeker’s handling of a case in which a Suttons Bay Township woman ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault.

The investigation accused Beeker of engaging in “severe misconduct” by befriending the woman and “violating his oath of office” in handling the case.

But Beeker last year filed a police union grievance that resulted in an arbitrator’s Feb. 23, 2007 decision that he should be reinstated as a Leelanau County sheriff’s deputy, be given back pay and benefits, and retain his seniority. The arbitrator also ruled that Beeker should undergo a psychological exam – but that he could be terminated if he failed the exam.

Oltersdorf announced Monday that he had received results of the March 28 psychological examination in the mail. According to the sheriff, the psychologist wrote: “I have no choice but to find him (Beeker) unfit to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a Deputy within the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department.”

The sheriff declined to release the report or discuss it in any detail, citing the Privacy Act, exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, and requirements related to patient confidentiality.

“I find the results of the evaluation to be biased and unfair,” Beeker told the Enterprise. “Undersheriff Wooters met twice with the psychologist and Sheriff Oltersdorf met with him prior to the completion of the results. This is the same psychologist who is paid by and chosen by the Sheriff’s Department and the same psychologist whose ‘Fit for Duty Evaluation’ I have taken and passed before. However, Sheriff Oltersdorf did not release those earlier positive results to the public,” Beeker said.

“Now that the sheriff’s psychologist has had his say, the arbitrator’s decision allows me to seek an unbiased opinion,” Beeker added.

Beeker said he agreed with the arbitrator and union officials that the internal investigation conducted by the undersheriff was “not full and fair.”

Quoting union officials, the arbitrator wrote: “The investigation was unfortunately prepared by an individual with an agenda. The agenda was to substantiate the discharge of Deputy (Beeker) …”

The arbitrator wrote that he agreed with the union’s assessment, and that the arbitrator, too, “got the impression that (Beeker’s) fate was sealed even before the internal investigation began.”

Sheriff Oltersdorf told the Enterprise this week that his April 2006 firing of Beeker was “a business decision made by myself and our entire command staff based on a history of (Beeker’s) behavior and not one isolated incident.”

Although the arbitrator’s report lists many commendations Beeker received during his 11-year career with the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department, the arbitrator acknowledged that Beeker’s “work record is not spotless.”

In 1997, Beeker was suspended for three days for an offensive joke directed toward a tribal police officer, according to the arbitrator’s report. In 1999, Beeker was suspended for 15 days for sexual harassment. In 2004, he was reprimanded for criticizing superiors.

“That same year, he was also reprimanded for an overly aggressive search,” the arbitrator wrote. “Even in one of the congratulatory letters … he was chastised for not promptly reporting a major drug bust. (Beeker) is a high maintenance employee,” the arbitrator wrote.

County administrator David Gill said that Beeker was slated to received $36,038 in back pay from April 2006 to March 2, plus about $5,600 for March 2 until Sunday.

In addition, the county’s legal bill for handling Beeker’s case was around $7,000, Gill said. The union arbitrator charged the county $5,000; and the psychologist charged the county $2,900, Gill said.

“The cost of defending this termination is a lot of money,” Oltersdorf said. “But it could be miniscule compared to a potential lawsuit against the county for the improper actions of a deputy.”

The sheriff added: “Everybody did what they needed to do in this case. With regard to Mr. Beeker’s termination, I and my command staff made a decision that was in the public’s interest. Everyone went through the proper procedures and we are now complying with the arbitrator’s decision and union rules.”

Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) union official Patrick Spidell, who represents the Leelanau County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, did not return a phone call from a reporter seeking comment on this story.

Oltersdorf said that he, too, had not received a call back from Spidell regarding the sheriff’s concerns about “seniority” language in a pending union contract. The Sheriff has declined to sign the contract until the language is clarified. The county board last week tabled its approval of the contract as well.

Leelanau County sheriff’s deputies ratified the contract earlier this month.

“If anything good comes out of resolving the Beeker case, it’s that no one is going to be laid off,” Oltersdorf said.

When Beeker was temporarily returned to duty with his seniority intact, the Sheriff’s Department was over its authorized manning level, and at least one officer would likely have been laid off had Beeker been retained.

“It’s been difficult for everyone over the last year with all the unknowns related to the arbitration,” Oltersdorf said. “Being overstaffed would have had a domino effect in terms of possible layoffs, seniority issues and promotion opportunities.

“These issues still need to be clarified and we’re hoping to schedule another meeting soon with the union,” Oltersdorf said.

Deputy fails psychological test
He was fired a year ago but had arbitration
April 24. 2007

SUTTONS BAY — A former Leelanau County deputy who regained his job through arbitration failed a psychological review and has been ruled unfit for duty.

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired Bruce Beeker, 38, for inappropriate contacts with a female crime suspect a year ago. Beeker filed a union grievance, and an arbitrator on Feb. 23 ruled he should be reinstated if he passes a "fitness for duty” psychological review.

Oltersdorf received the results of that evaluation in Monday's mail.

"I have no choice but to find him unfit to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a deputy within the Leelanau County Sheriff's Department,” the psychologist wrote in the report.

Oltersdorf would not discuss report specifics because it "contained protected health information,” but said the psychologist's decision will keep him from laying off anther deputy to make room for Beeker.

"He is paid up through yesterday for the arbitrator's demand and he is terminated as of today,” Oltersdorf said Monday. "Operationally, this means that we will not have to lay off any employees.”

Beeker did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday. Pat Spidell, local representative for the Police Officers Association of Michigan, also did not return messages.

David Gill, county administrator, said Beeker will receive $36,038 in back pay from April 2006 to March 2. He was paid about $5,600 for March 2 until Sunday.

Gill said he does not believe Beeker has any remaining opportunities to appeal the decision unless he chooses to take court action.

"We followed what the arbitrator said,” he said.

Undersheriff Scott Wooters investigated the 11-year department veteran last year for inappropriate contact with a female assault suspect after Beeker allegedly convinced a junior officer not to arrest Shari Prevost of Suttons Bay.

County holds off on giving OK to police officers union contract
Leelanau Enterprise
April 18, 2007

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners decided this week to table action approving a Police Officers Association of Michigan union contract with the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department despite a recommendation from the board’s executive committee last week that the pact should be approved.

County administrator David Gill told commissioners that he had since been advised by the county’s corporate counsel that the board should hold off approving the contract until Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf can work out a disagreement with a union negotiator over contract language related to seniority issues.

The Leelanau County Deputy Sheriff’s Association had voted last week to ratify the union contract.

As reported last week, nine Leelanau County sheriff’s deputies have grievances pending over a seniority issue that may affect the promotion and retention of certain officers in the coming weeks. The grievances stem from a union arbitrator’s determination earlier this year that a deputy fired by Oltersdorf in April 2006 must be reinstated.

If Deputy Bruce Beeker is to be retained by the Sheriff’s Department, he will also retain his seniority. Meanwhile, the Sheriff has already decided to retain another deputy, Mark Stevens, who in 2005 was convicted of drunk driving. Under current contract language as interpreted by union officials, Stevens lost his seniority when the Sheriff transferred him from the road patrol to the corrections division and back again. If both deputies are retained, the Sheriff’s Department will be over authorized staffing levels.

The Sheriff and other county officials are awaiting a determination from a psychologist regarding whether Beeker is psychologically fit and should be returned to duty. Beeker had been fired for what the Sheriff termed “inappropriate contact” with a female crime suspect.

The psychological evaluation was conducted last month in keeping with a union arbitrator’s order. However, the psychologist has yet to provide a report of his findings, county officials said.

In a memo to the county board, Gill wrote: “The staffing level approved by the Board of Commissioners for Law Enforcement Deputy Sheriffs is eleven (11). Since the return to payroll of Bruce Beeker, as ordered by the Arbitrator at the end of February, twelve (12) Law Enforcement Deputies are employed.”

The overstaffing of one position prompted Gill to notify the county board formally in keeping with county budget rules.

“I believe the Sheriff is awaiting the decision concerning Mr. Beeker’s ‘fit for duty evaluation’ before taking action to correct the problem,” Gill wrote.

Although Sheriff Oltersdorf was present at the County Board meeting Tuesday evening, he offered no public comment.

Sheriff questions union pact
Issue centers on deputies' seniority
Leelanau Enterprise
April 17, 2007

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners will support a new contract ratified earlier this week by the Leelanau County Deputy Sheriff’s Association — but Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf says he still has some concerns and may not sign the pact.

Appearing before the county board at its executive committee meeting Tuesday morning, Oltersdorf told commissioners that he and Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) business agent Patrick J. Spidell are stalemated over contract language outlining how deputies can lose seniority.

Nine Leelanau County sheriff’s deputies have reportedly filed grievances over a seniority issue that may affect the promotion and retention of certain officers in the coming weeks. The grievances appear to stem from a union arbitrator’s determination earlier this year that a deputy fired by Oltersdorf in April 2006 must be reinstated.

Deputy Bruce Beeker – who the sheriff fired last year for allegedly having “inappropriate contact” with a female crime suspect – is currently on paid administrative leave “until such time as a psychologist provides the county with a favorable fitness report as required by the arbitrator,” according to Oltersdorf.

Although Beeker is back on the payroll, Oltersdorf said, the deputy is performing no officials duties. Beeker underwent a comprehensive psychological evaluation on March 28, but the county had yet to receive any written or verbal report from the psychologist, the sheriff said Tuesday. Officials said they were expecting the psychologist’s report to be issued “any day now.”

If Beeker is retained in the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department he will also retain his seniority – and he will have more seniority than another deputy the sheriff has decided to retain. That deputy, Mark Stevens, was convicted of drunk driving in 2005.

Following his conviction, Stevens was reassigned from the sheriff’s department road patrol to the department’s corrections division as a jail guard – but has since been reinstated on the road patrol.

“It’s the union’s position that seniority ends when classification changes,” explained county administrator David Gill. “That’s been the union’s position for years, and that’s what nine officers have filed a grievance over,” Gill told the county board.

Officials say if Beeker stays, then Stevens must go because Stevens lost all his seniority when the sheriff transferred him from road patrol to jail duty. Beeker’s possible retention and Steven’s possible dismissal appears to be the exact opposite of the sheriff’s wishes.

Despite the sheriff’s concerns, members of the county board voted 6-0, with District No. 7 commissioner Melinda Lautner absent, to recommend approval of the updated police union contract. The full board will take final action on the recommendation of its executive committee at the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

County board chairman and District No. 6 commissioner Robert Hawley said that from the board’s perspective the contract addresses everything the board needs in terms of finances. Hawley noted that the police union made some “major concessions” over health insurance co-pays as part of the new contract – a move that will save the county money.

“The county board is satisfied with the contract,” Hawley said. “Any other issues in the contract are management issues the sheriff must address and are beyond the county’s board’s purview,” Hawley said.

In other business at its executive committee meeting this week, the county board recommended approval of two additional contracts at Sheriff Oltersdorf’s request – for seasonal law enforcement service for Leland Township and Empire Township.

The Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department will provide a part-time seasonal deputy for Leland Township this summer for up to $5,000; and another seasonal deputy for Empire Township for up to $10,000. Oltersdorf said that neither of the seasonal deputies had yet been hired or assigned.

Results of psych exam will determine deputies' status
Traverse City Record-Eagle

SUTTONS BAY — A Leelanau County sheriff's deputy is expected to undergo a "fitness for duty” psychological evaluation this week, and the results will determine who stays and who leaves the sheriff's department.

An arbitrator ruled last month that Leelanau Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired former deputy Bruce Beeker, 38, without just cause and ordered Beeker back on the county's payroll if he passes the evaluation.

Oltersdorf, who filled Beeker's position in February, said results of Beeker's examination will determine if he will be forced to lay off a deputy because of overstaffing.

"At that point someone will be laid off from here or Mr. Beeker will no longer be on the county's payroll,” Oltersdorf said. "We are in a wait-and-see pattern.”

Oltersdorf fired Beeker last year after an internal investigation showed the 11-year department veteran had inappropriate contact with a female assault suspect. Beeker filed a grievance, and an arbitrator on Feb. 23 ruled he should be reinstated and paid about $36,000 in back wages and thousands more in benefits.

That back pay was already calculated into the county's budget and if Beeker returns to work, the county will only lose money paid to his replacement since Feb. 17, Oltersdorf said.

"In theory, that money is in the county's treasury and hasn't been spent,” he said.

Last week, Oltersdorf met with the county board, which decided not to appeal the arbitrator's decision. Oltersdorf said he doesn't agree with the arbitration award and it doesn't make much sense.

"It's one person's opinion ... I certainly think he's wrong,” Oltersdorf said.

If Beeker passes the psychological review, he will be required to attend regular counseling sessions for a year, something Oltersdorf said seems contradictory.

"If a policeman is fit for duty, then why is he being subjected to ongoing counseling sessions for one year relative to decision-making concerns. If you are fit for duty, then there are no concerns about your behavior,” Oltersdorf said. "Everything a policeman does is predicated on his ability to make good, solid, sound decisions.”

County will comply with arbitrator over fired deputy
Leelanau Enterprise
March 14, 2007

During a closed session held under questionable circumstances, the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners apparently decided this week that the county will accept a federal mediator's determination regarding a fired Leelanau County sheriff's deputy.

In an opinion issued Feb. 23, the mediator determined that Deputy Bruce Beeker was fired last year by Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf without "just cause."

In upholding Beeker's police union grievance following his April 2006 firing, the mediator also determined that Beeker must undergo and pass a psychological evaluation before he is returned to duty. In addition, the county must pay the deputy more than $40,000 in back wages and benefits. If he is reinstated, the deputy must also undergo continued psychological counseling and must help pay for the counseling, according to the arbitrator’s determination.

As required by the state Open Meetings Act, the county board held a roll call vote during its executive committee meeting on Tuesday morning and decided 6-0, with District No. 5 commissioner David “Chauncey” Shiflett absent, to go into closed session to discuss the Beeker case.

The rationale for going into closed session expressed by county administrator David Gill was “to discuss a letter subject to attorney-client privilege regarding the Beeker arbitration.”

The county board met in closed session for more than an hour with Oltersdorf, undersheriff Scott Wooters, and jail commander Cheryl King.

During a break earlier in the board’s open session, Oltersdorf told a reporter that he believed the county board would need to decide “whether to appeal the arbitrator’s decision or embrace it.”

Immediately following the closed session, the sheriff and his staff departed the meeting room. After the board reconvened in open session, it moved through several routine items unrelated to the Beeker case – and then adjourned.

Immediately following adjournment, County Board chairman and District No. 6 commissioner Robert W. Hawley initially declined to answer a newspaper reporter’s questions about the closed session and why no decision was made in open session. Hawley said that the board had only “discussed a letter subject to attorney-client privilege regarding the Beeker arbitration.”

Pressed further about what decision, if any, might be made relative to the Beeker case – and when – Hawley responded: “We decided to comply with the arbitrator’s order.”

Under the state Open Meetings Act, any decisions made by a public body such as the county board must be made in open session.

Asked to explain why the county board had made a decision in closed session, Hawley said, “It wasn’t really a decision. We are in receipt of the arbitrator’s determination and we will comply with it as a matter of course. There was no need for any action by the county board.”

It could not be immediately determined what other decisions the county board might have made regarding public employees and the public’s money during the board’s closed session on Tuesday morning.

Contacted by phone later Tuesday, the sheriff indicated he intended to comply with the decisions of the county board and the federal arbitrator.

“The next step is for (Beeker) to undergo a psychological evaluation,” Oltersdorf said. “If he passes that evaluation, he will receive all of his back pay and will be returned to duty.”

The sheriff said he expected the evaluation to be conducted “in relatively short order” and that Beeker could be reinstated as a deputy and returned to duty “within a few days.”

Oltersdorf said that he had not yet determined what duties might be assigned to Beeker, assuming he is reinstated as a deputy. The sheriff also noted that the Sheriff’s Department will be “overstaffed” if Beeker is reinstated.

“If he is (reinstated), we will need to lay someone off,” Oltersdorf said, “but I have not yet determined how that will be handled.”

If Beeker does not pass his psychological evaluation, the Sheriff added, “I’m really not sure what happens next. This is the first time in 10 years that I’ve ever dismissed anyone. And I’m finding that it’s a really hard thing to do.”

Arbitrator: Give job back to deputy
Leelanau Enterprise, MI
by Eric Carlson
March 8, 2007

A Leelanau County Sheriff’s Deputy who had been reinstated to road patrol may lose his job to a deputy who was fired last year for allegedly having “inappropriate contact” with a female crime suspect.

The deputy who Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fired in April 2006 – Bruce Beeker – must be given his old job back, according to federal arbitrator E. Frank Cornelius who on Feb. 23 issued a decision sustaining Beeker’s police union grievance against the sheriff.

Beeker is due to receive more than $40,000 in back pay and benefits from the county, according to county administrator David Gill. In addition, the county will be required to pay half the bill from the arbitrator, some $4,800, plus around $8,500 in legal fees, Gill said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mark Stevens – who was reassigned from the sheriff’s department road patrol to the department’s corrections division as a jail guard immediately following his 2005 drunk driving conviction – has since been reinstated on the road patrol.

“That was a bait-and-switch on the part of Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf,” said Patrick Spidell, of the Police Officers Association of Michigan, the union representing Leelanau County deputies. “As far as the union is concerned,” Spidell said, “Deputy Stevens lost all of his seniority as a road patrol officer when the sheriff transferred him to corrections – and he didn’t get his seniority back when the sheriff transferred him back to road patrol. We’ve already filed a grievance over that one.”

Spidell added: “Now that Bruce Beeker is back, he has seniority over Stevens – and Stevens must go. The Sheriff’s Department is already at its maximum staffing level, so the Sheriff has to lay somebody off. And if somebody other than Stevens is laid off, I guarantee you that it will only generate another grievance from the union.”

Oltersdorf was out of the state on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment. He was expected to return later this week.

Undersheriff Scott Wooters, who conducted the internal investigation that led to Beeker’s firing, declined to provide any comment.

“Mike (Oltersdorf) ain’t here and Scott (Wooters) ain’t talkin’,” Gill quipped.

The county administrator said the issue would be brought to the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners at its executive committee meeting on Tuesday morning.

Gill said he expected the board would conduct its deliberations in “closed session” because the topic involves privileged communication from the county’s attorney regarding pending litigation and pending union grievances.

“The main question is – if Beeker’s back – the Sheriff has one too many guys on his staff,” Gill said. “I don’t think the county board will authorize the Sheriff to have more deputies than he already has.”

The Sheriff fired Beeker on April 19, 2006, after the undersheriff conducted an internal investigation into Beeker’s handling of a case in which a Suttons Bay Township woman ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence. The investigation accused Beeker of engaging in “severe misconduct” by befriending the woman and “violating his oath of office” in handling the case.

At the time, the Sheriff also cited a long list of prior suspensions, required counseling and reprimands against Beeker.

But federal arbitrator Cornelius criticized the investigation for not also taking into account an extensive list of commendations and awards Beeker had received during his time with the Sheriff’s Department. Cornelius wrote that the sheriff’s case against Beeker was “permeated by hearsay, unsubstantiated allegations, insinuations, rumors and innuendo (not to mention possible libel and slander)....”

The arbitrator ruled that the Sheriff’s investigation “failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence” that the sheriff fired Beeker “for just cause.”

The arbitrator also acknowledged that Beeker’s “work record is not spotless.” Cornelius called Beeker a “high-maintenance employee” and said he was “not insensitive to the (Sheriff’s) concerns.”

“In the short time the arbitrator had to observe (Beeker’s) demeanor at the hearing, he came across as distant, detached, spacey, not quite all there,” Cornelius wrote in his opinion. “His sometimes erratic behavior and inconsistent job performance seem almost bipolar or schizoid (in a colloquial sense, inasmuch as the arbitrator is no clinician). As a result, the arbitrator agrees with the (Sheriff) that (Beeker) is in need of counseling.”

The arbitrator ordered that Beeker see a mental health professional to determine whether he is fit for duty – and if he is, to undergo psychological counseling sessions regularly for the next year. Beeker would be required to pay for 60 percent of the cost of counseling with the county covering the rest.

Fired cop may get his job back
Arbitrator says officials must rehire county deputy
Traverse City Record Eagle, MI

SUTTONS BAY — A former Leelanau County deputy who was fired for having inappropriate contact with a female crime suspect may be reinstated and receive thousands of dollars in back pay and benefits.

An arbitrator said Leelanau officials must rehire Bruce Beeker, 38, a deputy whom Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf fired last April.

He'll receive about $36,000 in back wages, based on a calculation of his salary and hours, and likely will return to work with full pay and rank following a "fitness for duty” review, according to the arbitration award. The county and police union each will pay $4,549 in arbitration costs.

"The arbitrator has ordered him back on the payroll,” Leelanau County Administrator David Gill said Monday. "As of this morning he hasn't been assigned back in the sheriff's department. It is going to be up to the sheriff to reinstate him.”

Leelanau Undersheriff Scott Wooters investigated Beeker last year for inappropriate contact with a female assault suspect. Beeker, an 11-year department veteran, subsequently was fired.

He filed a union grievance, and an arbitrator on Feb. 23 ruled he should be reinstated.

The arbitrator's report stated Oltersdorf did not provide sufficient evidence that Beeker was fired for just cause. Beeker confirmed the decision but declined further comment.

Pat Spidell, a union agent for the Police Officers Association of Michigan, said the arbitration award will put Beeker back to work with no restrictions.

Senior road deputies are paid $19.99 an hour and typically work 40 hours per week, said Chelly Roush, of Leelanau County's accounting department. At that rate, Beeker is set to receive about $36,000 in back pay for the 45 weeks since his termination.

"He retains the same classification rank seniority and is entitled to the same rate of pay and benefits as any deputy under the collective bargaining contracts,” Spidell said. "He has to go to a psychological review to show he is fit for duty. Barring that, he will be back to work with no bad mark on his record.”

If Beeker passes the psychological review, he will be required to attend no fewer than one 50-minute counseling session per week for his first six month back on duty.

After the initial six months, Beeker's counseling sessions will be reduced to two 50-minute sessions per month, according to the arbitration award.

Oltersdorf will meet with the county board at its March 13 meeting to discuss Beeker's reinstatement, an issue complicated because the department previously filled Beeker's position.

Sheriff's officials referred comment to their labor attorney, John McGlinchey, who did not return calls for comment Monday.

"I would imagine part of the discussion would be how to handle the overstaffing because the sheriff's department would be over budgeted one deputy,” Spidell said. "The sheriff apparently didn't wait to find out the decision and he went ahead and filled the position.”

Gill was unsure what would be discussed at the executive meeting, but acknowledged the significance of the award."It is a big deal. A year's back pay is a big deal,” he said.

Oltersdorf fired Beeker on April 19, 2006, after an internal investigation found he'd violated his oath of office and code of conduct.

Beeker showed "a basic lack of integrity” when he became "immediately familiar” with domestic violence suspect Shari Prevost of Suttons Bay. Prevost allegedly met Beeker at his residence and the two shared about 85 phone-call contacts, attempted calls and text messages between March 18, the day Beeker investigated the Prevost assault, and April 11, 2006. Beeker was fired in part for allegedly convincing a junior officer not to arrest Prevost March 18, after deputies responded to the call that she assaulted her boyfriend, according to documents obtained by the Record-Eagle through the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The Prevost incident was one of many disciplinary problems noted in Beeker's personnel file.

Prevost was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and was sentenced April 21.

Records detail deputy's contacts

Traverse City Record-Eagle

SUTTONS BAY — A fired Leelanau County sheriff's deputy blames department politics and a contentious relationship with the sheriff for his dismissal last month.

But sheriff's officials said Bruce Beeker was dismissed following an internal probe of scores of alleged "inappropriate" contacts with a woman Beeker investigated as an assault suspect.

Leelanau Undersheriff Scott Wooters' investigation found Beeker, 37, an 11-year department veteran with a lengthy history of disciplinary problems, became "immediately familiar" with Suttons Bay resident Shari Prevost, 35, while Beeker investigated her in a domestic violence case.

Prevost visited Beeker at his residence and the two allegedly had six face-to-face contacts and approximately 85 phone contacts — calls, text messages and attempted calls — between them from March 18, the day the assault was reported, to April 11.

Beeker was fired in part for allegedly convincing a junior officer not to arrest Prevost on March 18, when deputies responded to a complaint that she assaulted her boyfriend, telling his co-worker "I'll take the heat," according to documents obtained by the Record-Eagle through the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The sheriff's complaint against Beeker alleges he failed to document reasons for not making an arrest, "contrary to department policy and state law."

The code of conduct violation alleges Beeker had enough information during the March 18 complaint, including "an admission by the suspect of wrongdoing," to justify an arrest.

Prevost pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence and was sentenced on April 21.

Beeker allegedly admitted to Wooters he told Prevost "when this is over maybe we can go four-wheeling sometime," a comment that prompted officials to consider it a date request.

"Your inappropriate contacts with a criminal suspect and conduct on her behalf showed an appalling disregard for your duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement deputy," Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf wrote in Beeker's letter of termination. "Your misconduct demonstrated not only a violation of your Oath of Office, as well as the Code of Conduct, but a basic lack of integrity."

Beeker contends he did nothing inappropriate."At no point in time was there any type of a relationship other than a professional relationship," he said. "Unfortunately, working in a small department, politics prevail immensely and there is no doubt there is a past history between the sheriff and myself."

Beeker, who joined the department in 1995, was twice suspended without pay following sexual harassment allegations, including three days in 1997 and 15 days in 1999.

He was suspended in 1999 after he allegedly took a photo of a naked male co-worker when the two attended a wedding in Hawaii and later showed it to others in the sheriff's department, including two female associates.

Beeker was issued written warnings or counseled for other incidents during his tenure, including having unauthorized personnel in his patrol vehicle, losing his badge in 2001, and failing to show up for training.

But Beeker also was tabbed by Oltersdorf as Leelanau County's "Deputy of the Year" in 2001.

Prevost acknowledged she met Beeker in person, but said the number of contacts alleged by Wooters in his report was "inflated."

"There was no relationship, but I did stop by his house for a 10-minute period and I did call him," she said.

"I called him because I was a nervous wreck, but there was no relationship at all and he did not ask me out on a date."

Wooters said Beeker was "deceptive and untruthful" in his responses to direct questions during the investigation, which is being challenged by a union grievance was filed on Beeker's behalf on April 25 that calls the termination "excessive" and not for "just cause."

Beeker said the attempted phone contacts with Prevost that Wooters examined lacked context.

"I was very surprised to realize the total number calls exchanged, but almost half were two minutes or less, which means they were calls that didn't connect or a message was left," said Beeker.

Deputy fired over consensual relationship

Woman was investigated for domestic violence
Traverse City Record-Eagle

SUTTONS BAY — A Leelanau County sheriff's deputy allegedly initiated a "consensual" relationship with a woman he investigated as a suspect in a domestic violence case — and was fired as a result.

Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf fired Bruce Beeker, 37, on Wednesday after an internal investigation found he violated his oath of office and "several departmental policies and procedures."

Beeker's termination allegedly stemmed at least in part from a domestic violence complaint he investigated on March 18 involving Shari Prevost, 34, of Suttons Bay.

Beeker and another deputy investigated after a man alleged Prevost, his ex-girlfriend, struck him in the face, according to police reports.

Traverse City attorney Cici Clough said Prevost began to have a friendship initiated by Beeker shortly after the domestic assault took place. The relationship allegedly included personal telephone conversations.

The relationship began while Prevost's case was active in the criminal justice system, Clough said.

"As far as I know, it was simply a friendship," said Clough. "There was a mutual communication between the two of them. Not ever having had experiences with law enforcement, she didn't know this was wrong. She just thought he was trying to be nice to her."

Beeker did not return calls seeking comment.

Oltersdorf refused to specify why Beeker was fired and would not release internal investigation documents requested by the Record-Eagle through the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Prevost pleaded guilty to a domestic violence misdemeanor on Friday and was given a delayed sentence of probation.

Clough said Beeker initiated the relationship, but it was not forced or coerced."They are no longer communicating," Clough said. "Her decision to plead guilty was not in any way based on outside influence, but to plead guilty because she was guilty."

Beeker was suspended April 6.

Deputy fired for violating policies

Traverse City Record-Eagle

SUTTONS BAY — Leelanau County sheriff's deputy Bruce Beeker was fired because he allegedly violated "several department policies and procedures" but Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf refused to specify what led to his termination.

Beeker, 37, was dismissed Wednesday after nearly 11 years as a patrol deputy after an internal investigation found he allegedly violated his "oath of office" and employee conduct policies. He was suspended with pay April 6.

Attempts to reach Beeker for comment were unsuccessful."He was terminated," Oltersdorf said. "He is entitled to due process and upon advice of the county's attorney no additional information will be released at this time."

Oltersdorf declined comment on Beeker's alleged violations pending an appeal of his dismissal. It followed a two-week internal investigation by Undersheriff Scott Wooters.

Deputy fired for violating policies


SUTTONS BAY — Leelanau County sheriff's deputy Bruce Beeker was fired because he allegedly violated "several department policies and procedures" but Sheriff Michael Oltersdorf refused to specify what led to his termination.

Beeker, 37, was dismissed Wednesday after nearly 11 years as a patrol deputy after an internal investigation found he allegedly violated his "oath of office" and employee conduct policies. He was suspended with pay April 6.

Attempts to reach Beeker for comment were unsuccessful.

"He was terminated," Oltersdorf said. "He is entitled to due process and upon advice of the county's attorney no additional information will be released at this time."

Oltersdorf declined comment on Beeker's alleged violations pending an appeal of his dismissal. It followed a two-week internal investigation by Undersheriff Scott Wooters.

Sheriff mum on suspension

Deputy under investigation by department
Traverse City Record-Eagle
BY IAN C. STOREY istorey@...

SUTTONS BAY — Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf won't say why he suspended a patrol deputy with nearly 11 years on the job.

Bruce Beeker, 37, was suspended pending an investigation into a possible violations of internal department "policy and procedures," Oltersdorf said.

Beeker, of Cedar, was placed on paid suspension April 6, but Oltersdorf said it would be "inappropriate" to comment specifically on an ongoing internal investigation conducted by Undersheriff Scott Wooters.

"I am not at liberty to discuss the matter because it is currently being investigated," said Oltersdorf. "He is guaranteed due process. We are attempting to substantiate if there were violations of our policy and procedures for internal operations.

"That is what is being investigated, alleged violations of policy and procedure," he said.

Repeated messages left with Beeker seeking comment were not returned.

Messages left by the Record-Eagle with Pat Spidell, a local union representative with the Police Officers Association of Michigan, weren't returned.

Oltersdorf said Beeker joined the sheriff's department in June 1995 but refused to say whether Beeker has had any other personnel issues in the past or how long the investigation may take to complete.

"I am not going to comment on his history at this time," he said. "The undersheriff will investigate this until he exhausts this process."