Because public officials are held to a higher standard, right?
Inver Grove Heights police chief, under investigation, cited for open bottle
By NICK FERRARO | firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLISHED: October 18, 2016 at 3:37 pm | UPDATED: October 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm
An intoxicated Larry Stanger, the police chief of Inver Grove Heights on paid leave as the city investigates his role in a property search tip-off, was cited last month for having an open beer outside a downtown Prescott, Wis., bar, according to a police report.
Stanger was given a ticket for an open container off a licensed premises — a violation of a city ordinance — after walking outside out of Scab’s Place with a Busch Light just after 2 a.m. Sept. 25, according to a Prescott police report obtained by the Pioneer Press.
Stanger was not given a preliminary breath test “due to his extremely high level of intoxication” and “based on his inability to speak clearly or in any kind of sentences,” the report read.
In April, Stanger was put on paid leave from his job after allegations surfaced that he alerted the owner of a Prescott auto-detailing business that the business was going to be searched for stolen construction vehicles. Stanger’s and the business owners’ sons are friends.
The Inver Grove Heights and Prescott police departments were working together on the theft case after surveillance and GPS tracking of the stolen vehicles led them to Prescott.
In August, Scott County attorney Ron Hocevar declined to charge Stanger with public corruption and violating data privacy laws, saying at the time that his office was not able to “connect the dots between what was alleged and the police chief to prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But whether Stanger violated any city of Inver Grove Heights policies, procedures or codes is the focus of an internal investigation by Quinlivan & Hughes, a law firm the city council hired Sept. 12 at a cost not to exceed $8,000. The investigation should be complete by mid-November, city administrator Joe Lynch said this week.
When asked Monday about Stanger’s open-container ticket, Lynch said he was unaware of the allegation. He declined to comment.
“I’ll have to find out what that’s about,” he said.
Stanger did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Stanger’s attorney, Robert Fowler, called the police report “false” and said his client would fight the $110 ticket.
“The first time he knew there was any incident was when a ticket showed up to his house,” Fowler said. “I can tell you on the night in question he was never stopped by Prescott police. He was never interviewed by Prescott police. They never collected any evidence, so it’s curious to know how they can conclude that he was in possession of an open intoxicant without ever talking to him or (identifying) him.”
He called the allegation a “coordinated effort by Prescott police to cloud the waters and ruin his career.”
Stanger, who lives in Cottage Grove and leases a boat slip at a Prescott marina, has been with the Inver Grove Heights police department since 1989 and has been its chief since January 2012. His salary this year is $128,000.
The Prescott police report gives the following account:
While investigating a fight at Scab’s Place, an officer saw Stanger with the beer in his hand and told him to get back inside the bar. Stanger did not acknowledge the officer, but Stanger’s wife, Lisa, came outside and brought him inside.
“During the conversation with Mr. Stanger and his wife, I was able to hear Mr. Stanger speaking but I was unable to discern the words he was attempting to speak due to his level of intoxication,” the officer wrote.
Later on, Stanger’s wife called dispatchers several times to speak with the officer, who met with her outside another bar. She told the officer that Stanger did not have a beer outside, and the officer said he would review cameras.
The officer asked Stanger’s wife if she was able to watch him and she said he would be “fine” and that he “just had a lot to drink,” the report read.