by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
ECM Sun Newspapers
The Rogers City Council agreed to accept the resignation of long-time Rogers Police Department employee Terri Hanson after an investigation by Chief Jeff Beahen revealed that she was repeatedly untruthful to her superiors about an incident that occurred in August.
Beahen told the council that on Friday, Aug. 10, Hanson reported to her superiors that she had found a folder where a co-worker, who was not named, had hidden 34 citations from July that hadn’t been entered into the computer system. Hanson went on to state that she spent the afternoon entering the citations since the co-worker left work early that day.
The following Monday, Beahen confronted the other employee, who adamantly denied Hanson’s story. Both employees were sent home while Beahen began to investigate. Hanson has been on paid leave since Aug. 13.
“In the beginning, I was just trying to corroborate Ms. Hanson’s story,” Beahen said.
He ran a query in the police department’s computer system that allowed him to see what citations had been entered, when and by whom.
His search revealed that the 34 citations in question had been entered by the other employee in July. He also saw that on Aug. 10, only 10 citations had been entered into the computer — six by Hanson, four by the other employee, and all had been entered in the morning.
He followed up his computer search with an account of the paper copies of every citation issued in July. After rounding up a handful that were either misfiled, returned to the officer for more data, or voided, he determined that none were unaccounted for.
After completing his investigation, he handed his findings over to the Columbia Heights Police Department for a third-party review and they agreed with Beahen’s finding that Hanson had made up the story.
Though Hanson wasn’t present at the meeting, her attorney, Kevin Beck, spoke on her behalf.
He questioned the reliability of the department’s antiquated computer system. A new system has already been purchased to replace it this fall. He also spoke of Hanson’s 15 years of faithful service to the Rogers Police Department and her dedication to the city of Rogers. He pointed out that the work she performed was widely recognized as high quality, even by Beahen. And he urged the council that there were other measures they could take besides termination, such as a suspension.
A number of Hanson’s friends spoke on her behalf, citing her integrity and disbelief that she would have made the story up.
City Attorney Jeff Carson addressed the council and advised them, “It’s not a situation of he said, she said. She said that she entered them and Chief Beahen proved that she didn’t.”
He also pointed out that Hanson continued to tell the same story he believed to be untrue. He offered to the council his view of the scenario, that she was angry at her co-worker who had a history of taking too many sick days and leaving early, and she had finally had enough.
He asked Beahen if he could continue to employ someone in his department who had been proven to be repeatedly untruthful.
“In my career, anyone that is not truthful is not retained by the agency for that very reason,” Beahen answered.
The council and Beck worked out an agreement to allow Hanson to resign, rather than be fired.
Though the council was unanimous in its decision, many expressed personal sentiments.
Mayor Jay Bunting offered, “This is one of those things that hits very close to home. I know Terri very well. I’ve known Terri for a number of years. I’ve been to her house. I’ve supported her in times when things were difficult. I know her kids. The people here all say the same thing, but decisions like these are never easy to make.”
Hanson’s daughter, Ashley Hanson, said: “Her entire life was this police department. Nobody loves this police department and this city like she does. She never had a second thought what else she would do. She was going to work here for the rest of her life.”