Records reveal reasons behind three Prescott police terminations
Records released from the Prescott Police Department and City Administrator Jayne Brand document months of alleged insubordination and policy violations by three employees who were fired in August.
Brand released the records to RiverTown Multimedia Thursday, Sept. 28, which contain detailed reports about former probationary police officers Bryan Massman and Ryan Most, as well as former administrative assistant Erin Most — Ryan Most's wife — and the actions leading up to their dismissals.
Erin Most's employment was terminated Aug. 1 due to "ongoing job performance issues," according to a letter to Most from Brand. She had been with the department since late 2014.
According to records:
An email dated April 26, 2017 documents Most telling an attorney over the phone that his client was "crazy" during a conversation about an open records request for body camera video.
Brand noted that she spoke to then Police Chief Gary Krutke about the matter.
"I told Chief Krutke we can think that but it is not something that should be said to someone's attorney," the email said.
On June 19, 2017, Code Enforcement Officer Sanjeev Dhawan reported Most yelling and swearing at him when he asked for help in learning the municipal citation process.
"Sanjeev stated Erin told him they hadn't done a municipal citation in at least four years so no one knew what to do," personnel documentation states.
Other ongoing complaints against Most include falsifying time sheets, getting into "yelling matches" with officers when asked to complete tasks, a pattern of deficient reporting to the district attorney's office and insubordination to superiors.
Sgt. Eric Michaels reported in June that when questioned about an inaccuracy on her timesheet, Most responded "Heaven forbid I short the city 3.5 hours."
A meeting held June 27, 2017 with Mayor David Hovel, Police Chief Gary Krutke (who died of cancer in August), Brand, Sgt. Mark Schultz, Sgt. Eric Michaels, Det. Sgt. Jesse Nealy and now Interim Chief Rob Funk discussed the district attorney's concern over a pattern of "deficient reporting."
According to meeting notes, "The DA (Sean Froelich) was frustrated with names appearing in the body of report without full identification information or exactly what their role in a case was."
Froelich apparently outlined what he expects to see in reports sent to his office in his quest to remedy the situation. The meeting notes state: "The DA put it very simply. This is very basic police work. We just need to be more thorough."
Most was told to acknowledge the DA's requests for follow up and report the results, "whether fruitful or not," respectfully.
The second part of that June meeting dealt with the Mosts and Massman contacting Krutke while he was on medical leave as he battled cancer. Records state that the three refused to follow the chain of command set into place by Krutke before his leave.
"For those of you that need to be reminded, our Chief and friend has battled cancer and is on the mend," notes from Funk state. "His stress needs to be kept at a minimum...Some have respected this, some have not. For staff to call the Chief and attempt to involve him in a perceived conflict, amounts to selfishness by the staff member, not to mention insubordination."
The Personnel Committee met in closed session July 31, 2017 to discuss the possible dismissal, demotion, licensing or discipline of a public employee. Most was released Aug. 1. Before working in Prescott, she worked for the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, St. Croix County Sheriff's Office and New Richmond Police Department.
Prescott Police Commission member Bill Pryor said in August that Massman and Brian Most were in their probationary status. Pryor said the employment decision was up to Funk, who assumed leadership after Krutke died Aug.5. There was no formal dismissal action to be taken by the commission, Pryor said, since — as probationary employees — the officers weren't represented by the police union.
Massman and Ryan Most were both released Aug. 8, detailed in letters to them from Funk, due to "ongoing job performance issues." This was after a closed session Police Commission meeting Aug. 7, at which Funk was also approved Interim Chief of Police. Funk was then authorized by the Police Commission to "handle the personnel issues as discussed."
In an email dated Aug. 7 to the Prescott Police Commission from Funk, he said he believes Ryan Most and Massman should be "separated from employment" due to several policy violations. Those alleged violations include problems with officer conduct, insubordination, and leaving weapons unsecured.
For example, when Schultz ordered Ryan Most to email Funk with any drug-related information he came across during patrol shifts, Ryan Most allegedly threatened to cease making traffic stops and not forward drug information. Department records document Ryan Most's decline in production, which was seen as a violation of officer conduct, neglect of duty and insubordination.
Michaels detailed in a May 5 email Ryan Most's displeasure at providing drug information from traffic stops.
"Mr. Most's reasoning for this was he felt when he stopped a subject out of another state that was just passing through there should be no reason for him to have to turn this information over because the likelihood of said person coming back through Prescott was slight," Michaels wrote. "Mr. Most indicated on multiple occasions he would just stop making traffic stops or if he did make stops, he would just destroy the weed or pipes that he confiscated instead of issuing the citations and relaying the information."
Several police department emails show Neely and Schultz asking all employees to stop complaining about the chief's decisions, to follow the chain of command while Krutke was on leave, and to secure weapons (which on more than one occasion were left in squads).
"We are all adults stop the back stabbing, stop the complaining and start working together as a TEAM!" an email from Neely sent Dec. 19, 2016 states. "The Chief is not a babysitter and should never ever have to deal with these silly items."
Department employees documented Ryan Most and Massman complaining about unused police equipment such as an ATV, confrontational behavior and a text message applauding insubordination to the chief.
On Feb. 25, 2017, Michaels documented an incident with Massman in the patrol room in which Massman accused him of talking about him behind his back. During a timecard discussion, Massman allegedly asked Michaels (his superior) if he had to call him "every time he has to take a shit."
Massman sent a text message June 30, 2017, to Krutke, presumably by accident, that said "Erin's on the phone having it out with Gary right now. It's great!!! She's letting him have it. He believes it's her causing these problems."
On July 17, 2017, Funk learned that a locker contained two M14 machine guns, two 1911 pistols (one was loaded), and a fiber optic scope. The unsecured equipment, assigned to Massman, totaled about $8,000.
Massman was hired Oct. 7, 2016; Ryan most was brought on board April 9, 2015.
The Police Commission directed Funk to post two police officer positions Sept. 21, with application submission to close within 30 days of posting.
"The hiring process has begun to fulfill our staffing needs for Officers," Funk said in an email to RiverTown Friday. "We are near the end of our process for the Administrative Assistant and will do a press release shortly after that new employee comes on.
"As for the former employees, the City of Prescott has severed its employment relationship with them and the matter closed."