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Open Letter to Ketchikan Citizens & City Council Members
By John Maki


June 28, 2006

Dear Citizens and Council members,

Since I have always adhered to the philosophy that as a public servant, one works for the citizenry through government, I am addressing this letter to both the citizens and the City of Ketchikan City Council. Copies will be sent to the appropriate officials.

On May 11, 2006, I was informed that I was under investigation for misconduct and placed on Paid Administrative Leave. I was demeaned by the demand for my badge, ID card and key and by being escorted from the building. In my experience, this action is reserved for a public official who is suspected of committing serious crimes. A press release was issued by the assistant city manager stating my leave status and he assured the public that an "objective investigation" would be completed, but at no time from that point on was there a hint of the possibility of exoneration.

To this day, I have not been informed of any specific acts of misconduct, but was ordered to a fact finding meeting attended by the City's human resources manager and the assistant city manager. Prior to this meeting, the human resources manager had conducted interviews with almost all members of the department. I will note that I have never in my 33 year professional career seen this done before. In light of the fact that I was never even advised of the specific allegations against me, this widespread investigation appears to me to be both unnecessary and possibly merely a fishing expedition designed to justify the earlier decision to put me on administrative leave.

At the meeting, only general questions were asked and I provided what information I could. In virtually every law enforcement agency, there are procedures to be followed in an investigation of this type and the investigation (called internal affairs) is conducted by professional law enforcement officers. From the beginning, a person is informed of specific allegations and given a chance to respond to them. Due process is honored. In my case, the investigation was conducted by persons who have never been to a police academy and have little knowledge of duties, responsibilities, rank structure, span of control, community policing concepts, officer safety, response time, cover and backup officer responsibilities, protective custody laws, and other appropriate Alaska Statutes. I was denied Due Process because I was unable to prepare for this inquiry, unable to back up any alleged specific violations through interviews with witnesses and could not access my computer records, which would have enabled me to provide documents to refute any allegations against me. I believe that my constitutional rights as a citizen of the United States and Alaska were violated - as I was told who and who I could not contact. In short, I appear to have been judged "guilty" at the outset of this investigation.

I thought that access to my spotless personnel file from the agency where I had spent a 26 plus year career would provide at least some insight for the investigation, especially when my credibility was going to be at issue. According, I provided to the City s human resource manager a letter by which she could obtain my personnel records. This was apparently not important to her, as she never asked for my signature so that these records could be released. Similarly, the glowing 3 month evaluation I had received from Ketchikan's Rich Leipfert was ignored. Although I was to have received a six-month and an annual evaluation, this never occurred. Ironically, one of the allegations made against me was that I failed to complete assignments.

I can find nothing in the personnel rules of the city that outlines the procedures of this so-called investigation. The investigation was scarcely an "objective" investigation; instead, it was an unprofessional arbitrary and capricious one that fits almost exactly what has happened to other managers and employees in the past. To my knowledge, no one forced into the process escapes with his or her job.

I firmly believe the reason for the investigation was the fact that I upset Ketchikan CHARR, either as a group or individual members of that organization, when I made it clear that I would enforce existing State and City Liquor Laws. For liquor stores and bars to be required to adhere to these laws would mean less profit for the bar and store owners.

I spent a considerable amount of money to come to Ketchikan: I gave up a job that paid more, it cost over $19,00 to move here, and I brought my elderly parents whose dream it was to live and fish in Alaska. The city only reimbursed me $5,000 for the move, so I paid for most of these moving expenses. I am now paying close to $12,000 for the move back to Colorado since - based upon what has happened to other employees under investigation - my career in Ketchikan is over.

I took vacation leave to get my parents and family belongings back to Colorado and requested some additional vacation time that I had earned to accomplish this process. This extension was denied by the City's human resources manager, who stated that I had to be back for a meeting on June 26, 2006 pertinent to this investigation. At a time when I was out of town and with only three days notice, I was informed that the meeting had been changed to the 28th. Of course, by that time, I would incur additional costs to reschedule flights, assuming I could rebook a different flight on such last minute notice during the summer months.

Normally, investigations of this type take two or three weeks, but I have been on Paid Leave for almost 6 weeks at the taxpayer's expense. Moreover, I understand that the city provided Paid Administrative Leave for one person for an entire year while he was living out of state. In my case, I feel that this delay has been intended to force me to resign by drawing out the process for an unreasonable length of time.

For the record, I categorically deny the allegations that have been made against me. I would further note that I have no trust in the process since guilt has been assumed and I have been denied due process during the first stage of this investigation. It is my belief that this entire manner has been handled in an unacceptable and unprofessional manner. However, that is for you to investigate as a city council and for the citizens of Ketchikan to insist upon.

I will certainly reserve any and all rights afforded me to vindicate my good name, veracity, and character. My faith instructs me to forgive and it also teaches me that justice and truth will reveal themselves at another place and time. However, rather than to prolong the stress that my family has been under due to the manner in which I have been treated, consider this letter to be my resignation.

John Maki
Dated 06/24/06
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: John Maki writes he is "the former Ketchikan Deputy Chief of Police".


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