- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 30-year Iowa Law Enforcement Academy instructor who retired during a state investigation into his workplace conduct said Thursday he left to spend more time with his new puppies.

Mark Edmund, 58, retired Monday from the academy in Johnston, which has faced criticism from Democrats and crime victims’ groups about its management and culture over the last 18 months.

Edmund, who taught physical fitness, driving techniques, and bicycle patrol to aspiring officers, had been placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 19 after academy director Arlen Ciechanowski received a complaint about him, Ciechanoski confirmed Thursday.

Ciechanoski said he turned over the complaint to the Department of Administrative Services, which handles human resources for state government and launched an investigation. Ciechanowski and DAS spokesman Caleb Hunter would not release any specifics about the complaint or the investigation, calling it a personnel matter that is confidential. Several students had been interviewed.

Ciechanowski said the investigation was nearing its completion but not finished when Edmund dropped off his retirement papers Monday.

Reached Thursday by The Associated Press, Edmund said that it was “none of your business” why he had been on leave and wouldn’t speak about the investigation. Instead, he repeatedly said that he decided to retire because he recently bought puppies and wanted to raise them. One of them, he noted, tried to knock the phone out of his hand during the call.

“I bought two golden retriever puppies and decided I’d rather spend my time with them right now,” he said.

Ciechanowski paused and then chuckled when told of that explanation.

“What do you want me to say to that? I suppose that’s right, I guess. I don’t know,” he said. “I know Mark had been contemplating retirement. What he’s doing, I really don’t know.”

Edmund’s departure marks the latest of several personnel problems at the academy under Ciechanowski, who was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011.

In June, Ciechanowski fired his assistant director Michael Quinn after state lawmakers changed the law so he could be terminated at will. Democrats and crime victims’ groups had criticized the academy and Branstad for letting Quinn stay in the position after a DAS investigation confirmed he had made inappropriate sexual and threatening remarks to female students and colleagues. Meanwhile, Ciechanowski fired the female instructor whose complaints had sparked the investigation.

Ciechanowski also faced criticism for hiring another instructor, Curtis Pote, after learning he had been demoted from his previous job for harassing a female cadet.

Taken together, critics say those incidents illustrate a hostile environment for women at the academy. Ciechanowski has denied that. He recently hired retired Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw to replace Quinn.

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