Blue Earth: Officer failed duties

BLUE EARTH – Information has been released regarding complaints against one Blue Earth police officer, but mystery still surrounds another.

Officer Chad Bonin was placed on three days suspension June 26 by the City Council. He has since served the time, following allegations made against him earlier this year. City Attorney David Frundt has released the allegations against Bonin.

The original complaint contained four counts, including drinking in a motor vehicle on April 18; spending “inordinate amounts of time while on duty” at a private residence; failure to report an accident with a squad car on April 20 in a timely manner; and failure on March 22 “to impartially handle a traffic stop for driving under the influence” and “make a probable cause arrest of a ‘friend’ of his when probable cause evidence of intoxication of the driver was present.”

Bonin was suspended for two counts: conduct unbecoming an officer, and attention to duty, according to the notice by Police Chief Tom Fletcher.

The notice mentioned that Bonin had gone to a bar with friends in Vernon Center on April 18 and alcoholic beverages were consumed during the trip, which is a violation of state law.

“While it was found that you were neither driving nor consuming alcohol during that time, it is imperative for you to understand that you are a police officer at all times, not just when you are at work,” Fletcher wrote. “Being present for illegal activity involving citizens of Blue Earth and simply claiming that you weren’t doing it doesn’t indemnify you for those actions. It is a direct violation of principle 4 article 16 of the police policy which states:

“Peace officers shall not, whether on or off duty, exhibit any conduct which decredits themselves or their agency or otherwise impairs their ability or that of other officers or the agency to provide law enforcement services to the community,” Fletcher wrote, quoting the policy.

“For our police department to be effective, we need to have the trust of the public in which we serve,” Fletcher wrote. “Your actions work to undermine that trust in which we and officers before us have worked so hard in establishing. In our line of work, we cannot play favorites. The message in which this conduct sends is that illegal behavior is acceptable as long as they are your friends. That message is unacceptable.”

The notice also mentioned an incident April 20 when Bonin was at a friend’s house for a dinner break. Someone else backed out and hit the squad car, but Fletcher said he was not notified of the damage until April 22 and that information came from a part-time officer.

“It is your responsibility to notify the Chief of an accident of this nature,” Fletcher wrote. “Despite your belief that the damage was minor, the ensuing work done to fix the damage was in excess of $2,600. Failure to notify is a direct violation of article 8, section 11 of the policy which states in part:

“Any departmental property or city property damaged shall be reported immediately to the Chief of Police. This report shall state what was damaged, how it was damaged, and the owner of any other property damaged,” Fletcher quoted policy.

“Policy manual aside, the public demands that its police officers conduct themselves at all times in an ethical manner,” Fletcher wrote.

The information on Bonin was obtained by the Sentinel through a data request. Another data request has been made by the Sentinel to obtain information regarding allegations against police officer Todd Purvis.

Purvis was placed on paid administrative leave in January, prompting a criminal investigation, an internal investigation, and multiple closed sessions of the council. There were no criminal charges filed, but the allegations against Purvis have never been made public.