IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The embattled assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy has been fired, weeks before he was set to retire following a 48-year career in law enforcement, the academy director said Wednesday.
Director Arlen Ciechanowski told The Associated Press he dismissed Michael Quinn on Tuesday. Ciechanowski said the reason is confidential.
Quinn announced in April that he would retire June 30 following months of criticism for inappropriate sexual and threatening remarks to female students and colleagues. But on May 30, Gov. Terry Branstad signed the state budget, which contained a provision that changed Quinn’s job from a merit-protected position to an at-will employee who could be fired for any reason without appeal rights.
Democratic Sen. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids said the goal of the change was to make it easier for the Branstad administration to fire Quinn, 71, who had been at the academy since 2000, if they chose to do so.
“In my view, based on the reports of what Mr. Quinn did, he should have been terminated long ago,” Hogg said. “But it’s good news that he’s been terminated because sexual harassment and workplace threats are not acceptable in state government and shouldn’t be acceptable in any employment situation.”
The academy, based at Camp Dodge in Johnston, trains and certifies law enforcement officers, jailers and dispatchers.
A 2012 Department of Administrative Services investigation found that Quinn asked female recruits taking a sex abuse investigation class whether “penis size matters,” talked about his sex life in front of them and told colleagues that he “got my nuts cut and have them on ice” after he underwent a vasectomy. He also warned instructor Nancy Brady, who sparked the investigation with a complaint about remarks that students found offensive, that he would “slit your throat” if she spent too much time talking with another worker.
Ciechanowski gave Quinn a written warning that did not affect his $91,000 annual salary but put him on notice that any additional harassment, intimidation or unprofessional behavior would result in dismissal. Quinn was removed from his longtime position as the academy’s Violence Against Women Act coordinator only after the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which manages the federal grant, learned about his behavior months later.
Ciechanowski said Wednesday that Quinn did not violate his last-chance warning and is not facing an investigation. He would not say how the dismissal might affect Quinn’s retirement benefits.
Quinn declined comment.
In April, he said that he had always planned to retire in 2014 and denied he was facing pressure to step down. He described his inappropriate comments as “an inadvertent thing” that he regretted. Quinn, a former police chief in Newton and police official in Waterloo, said he was “very proud” of his long service.
The AP found that the academy hired Quinn for an instructor position in 2000, even though he’d abruptly resigned his previous job as a Webster City administrator when a female subordinate accused him of bullying and inappropriately touching her.
Meanwhile, Brady was fired from the academy in January 2013, after she was accused of threatening Ciechanowski. Brady contends that was false and amounted to whistleblower retaliation.
Democrats have criticized the Branstad administration for firing Brady while keeping Quinn. Advocates for domestic abuse and rape victims and some female officers complained about what they called a “good old boys’ network” and hostile environment for women.
Branstad appointed Ciechanowski as director in 2011 after accepting the resignation of Penny Westfall, its first female leader. During his 2010 campaign, Branstad had criticized Westfall’s leadership after some police chiefs and sheriffs complained about her style.
A Branstad spokesman said the governor’s office was “made aware” of Quinn’s firing Tuesday.
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