An Open Letter to the Citizens
By John Maki
June 06, 2006
My Side of the Story.
For many of you it was a shock to see headlines that John Maki,
the Deputy Chief of Police for only a year in Ketchikan was placed
on paid administrative leave pending the investigation of possible
misconduct. But imagine my shock to find out that in the course
of two weeks I had apparently changed from Dr. Jeckle to Mr.
The letter I received May 11 states I am on leave "pending
the internal investigation into complaints received regarding
your demeaning and abusive behavior toward subordinates and/or
citizens; incompetent performance of assigned duties, jeopardizing
officer safety while working or supervising patrol; failing to
meet the minimum requirements of an Officer and inability to
effectively communicate." News to me .. just two weeks
prior I was told by Rich Leipfert that I was doing a great job
and there was nothing that I needed to do differently. But for
these reasons on May 11 I was told to surrender my badge, ID
card and office key. I cannot communicate with anyone in an
official capacity in the police department or city, save one
even to prepare my defense. From the way I was treated and
made sure to collect all my personal items from my office, it
appears I will not be coming back. I didn t think one starts
with termination and work backwards to find a reason.
The catalyst of this were complaints by an officer who vied for
my job and lost out, had to be placed on disciplinary probation
by me, and the final straw, not getting his first choice of days
off for the first time in a year. Issues were brought up that
went as far back as August of 2005, that could have and should
have been handled through the city grievance procedures. I
finally had a chance to respond to the still generalized complaints
and cannot believe that these could possibly lead to termination,
especially in light of no verbal or written negative feedback
since I started last April. A couple of gems at the hearing:
1. Have you ever performed building maintenance at KPD?
2. Did you write a policy that
prohibits officers from being drunk in a public place?
(ah . I plead guilty to both counts)
Of the three written evaluations of my performance I was to receive
over my year's service, only one was completed that states in
"I am extremely pleased
with the work ethic and professionalism that John graces this
department. His presence makes a much needed positive impact
on the department and community."
I have consistently solicited
feedback from my supervisor and to this day have not had one
negative comment except for a remark made about a certain letter
I sent to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. As such, after
racking my brain, I believe this action is retaliation for that
letter I wrote as a private citizen and my activism in pointing
out a problem in Ketchikan.
In my prior 32 years of public service I have had a spotless
record. For almost 27 years I was a deputy in a large sheriff
s office in Colorado working through all divisions and attaining
the rank of lieutenant and watch commander taking a total of
one sick day off in that time. I spent most of my career as
a supervisor assigned to patrol operations with a call load and
officers vastly exceeding those of Ketchikan. I was assigned
to take over and clean up corruption in a drug enforcement task
force and then went on to serve as its commander for four years.
I sent a request to the Arapahoe County Sheriff s Office located
in Centennial, Colorado that any inquiry about all my personnel
records be honored and made available to anyone, the press and
city included. For five years I was the director of one of the
finest police academies in Colorado where I taught ethics among
other legal courses. I am already certified by Alaska Police
Standards to teach ethics at the academy !
in Sitka and throughout the State.
I naively thought that part of my job was to identify and address
crime and disorder problems, and develop a plan to deal with
them in hopes of improving the quality of life in Ketchikan.
From interacting with the youth in the Future Search project
Making Ketchikan a Great Place to Live and Come Back to a Youth
Initiative , a concern at the top of their chart was problems
associated with drugs and alcohol abuse in this community. I
have tried to involve myself with adults and with the youth to
earn the friendship and respect of both and establish some communication
that might lead to trust. Alaska s and Ketchikan s Crime Index
is among the highest in the United States with alcohol and drugs
a major factor. Did you know that in 2004 (the last year statistics
are available) a woman was almost twice as likely to be forcibly
raped in Ketchikan than in Detroit, Michigan? A person is more
than three times as likely to be the victim of a theft in Ketchikan
as in Los Angeles, California.
Shouldn't these problems be of at least equal concern to city
and borough officials as expanding docks, building bridges and
Signing as a private citizen, I sent the fore-mentioned letter
to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board questioning the need to
transfer a liquor license from one establishment to another and
I sent copies of that letter to the City Councils of Ketchikan,
the Borough and Saxman. The Control Board solicits these comments
and there is no need to hide the facts. I pointed out that
liquor outlets in Ketchikan vastly exceed the caps placed on
per capita establishments by the Alaska Legislature and there
are studies that indicate the link between the availability of
alcohol and crime. I also discovered that KPD officers spend
more time chasing teens with cigarettes, than enforcing the state
and municipal laws dealing with liquor establishments responsibilities.
(A person can receive a citation for being drunk in a licensed
premise, but the bar, bartender or server has almost never been
held responsible for getting the person that way). As I have
always said, there is nothing wrong with responsible drinking
but: Drunk/intoxication = drug overdose = irresponsible drinking.
After a Coast Guarder was severely beaten outside a local drinking
establishment, I drafted an information sheet that was distributed
to liquor outlets in town, listing the state laws and ordinances
and asking them to police themselves more carefully. Within
a day or two I heard from an official of State CHARR asking if
I were really serious, and if KPD officers were really going
to start enforcing especially the strong municipal law passed
by your city council at one time.
5.20.030 Not to sell to certain
persons. Any selling, serving, or furnishing of beer, wine or
hard liquor to a person under the age of nineteen years, or to
any habitual drunkard, or to a person who is drunk or intoxicated,
or to any person who is noticeably under the influence of intoxicating
liquor in any degree, by one person for another shall be deemed
a selling, serving, or furnishing by both; and both shall be
liable, either jointly or severally, and shall be punished as
provided in Section 5.20.140. (Ord. 731 §l, 1970: prior
code §2-3) 5/2002
Letters to Sitnews and this
informational flyer, I believe, made good sense with points very
difficult to argue with. The solution was to silence the messenger
and I have no doubt that looking to the enforcement of already
existing laws is the real reason I will no longer be working
True to what I have heard from another who had been a victim
of this city process, an order to terminate is issued from the
top and starts with a valid issue that could easily be handled
through in place grievance procedures. From there it is embellished
with other issues invented. Part of the investigation is to
interview as many employees as possible to lend some credibility
to the charges (akin to what was practiced in Salem 400 years
ago). The intent of the process of a paid Administrative Leave
is to cause a weary, frustrated person to look for another job
and then resign. It is a formula that has worked well to rid
the city of dedicated managers who just don t fit the head manager
I attempt to follow Christ in my private and professional life.
I make no claim to be perfect. I do make mistakes and am man
enough to admit and apologize for them. I came to Ketchikan
seeing an opportunity to make a difference in a place with a
high crime index and a long history of autocratic zero tolerance
reactive policing. Believe me, there is a better way and I have
seen good movement in that direction.
There are super, dedicated, caring professional officers at KPD
who see the need to integrate more in to the community and do
real problem solving, and there are others who have considered
change and new ideas a threat. There are those who have empathy
and compassion and see public servitude as an honor, and then
there are those who feel the public should be serving them.
I come from a police culture that says there doesn't need to
be 3 police cars at the scene of a fender bender accident in
a parking lot or that it takes 2 officers to interview a person
about a "cold" report.
The loyalty I encourage is that officers and people be true to
their values and principles, not to other people. The "I
scratch your back, you scratch mine" brand of loyalty breeds
corruption. Nazi Germany was built on loyalty and great evil
was done to please a tyrant by those willing to sell their souls.
I was told after I had interviewed for this job, There is a
lot of politics in Ketchikan. But there is a difference between
politics and the corruption of trying to destroy a good cop's
career and reputation to silence him.
However, this ends - termination or resignation - Suz and I
will be leaving Ketchikan. For there to be any positive change
it will have to be a forced resetting of priorities by an educated,
concerned and caring public. That usually means removing obstructionists
and egotists from their perches.
We truly appreciate all the emails expressing concern and support
from the friends we have made.
Thank you for the honor I have had in serving you!!
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: Deputy Chief of Police
John Maki is on been on Paid Administrative Leave since May 11,
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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