Media Release – Chaska Police Department
Termination of Chaska Officer Upheld by Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services Arbitrator
23 February 2016
Scott M. Knight
Chief of Police
Actions on the part of Officer Joshua Lawrenz caused Chief of Police Scott Knight to place Lawrenz on administrative leave on 27 August 2014.
After an extensive internal affairs investigation, which was conducted by Michelle Soldo; Soldo Consulting Group, P.C. – an outside investigator – at the request of the police department, evidence was gathered that revealed Lawrenz had engaged in unauthorized and unlawful traffic enforcement targeting Hispanic/Latino persons.
His actions were found to be in violation of numerous Chaska Police Department general orders and Minnesota Statute 626.8471. Chief Knight terminated Lawrenz on 17 April 2015.
Lawrenz exercised his right to enter into final and binding arbitration, to contest his termination, and have his case heard by a Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services Arbitrator. Lawrenz was represented by Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. Local No. 210; the City was represented by Madden Galanter Hansen, LLP. The hearing spanned a total of 10 days.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, the arbitrator found:
- Evidence [existed] showing that the Grievant [Lawrenz] relied on racial and ethnic stereotypes as factors in selecting where to engage in stationary patrol and whom to stop and search.
- Statements by the Grievant [Lawrenz], combined with his patrol activity, created a real and public perception that he was targeting Hispanic drivers solely because they were Hispanic.
- The Carver County Attorney’s Office determined that stops involving Hispanic drivers were invalid and unconstitutional.
- As a result of [Lawrenz’s] untruthfulness, the Carver County Attorney’s Office determined that he will not be allowed to testify for [their] office ever again.
- The Carver County Attorney’s Office dismissed all active prosecutions involving [Lawrenz] as the primary police officer where the defendant has a Hispanic surname.
- The Grievant [Lawrenz] engaged in patrol activity resulting in the unauthorized and unlawful targeting of Hispanic drivers in violation of CPD General Orders and the state statute. His conduct brought discredit to himself and the CPD and detracted from the respect and confidence of the community that is essential to law enforcement effectiveness.
- The Grievant also provided untruthful answers during his [internal investigation] interview in violation of CPD General Orders. If a Police Officer is not honest and truthful in his dealings, the integrity and honesty of the Officer will forever be called into question. The untruthfulness of a Police Officer is so egregious that it is destructive to a continuing employment relationship.
The arbitrator concluded that the City had just cause to discharge Lawrenz.