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.
DEPUTY BRUCE BEEKER, JANUARY 23, 2009: INAPPROPRIATE EMAILS:
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'
BY ART BUKOWSKI
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
BY ART BUKOWSKI
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'
FROM STAFF REPORTS
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
By ART BUKOWSK
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."
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
Eric Carlson (email@example.com)
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.
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
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
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.
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
By VICTOR SKINNER
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
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
By VICTOR SKINNER
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
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
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
By VICTOR SKINNER
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
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
By VICTOR SKINNER
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
BY IAN C. STOREY
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
FROM STAFF REPORTS
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
FROM STAFF REPORTS
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."