By Tristan 

Colstrip fires police chief for misconduct


COLSTRIP (AP) — The mayor of Colstrip said the city fired its police chief for several reasons, including a recent complaint by a female dispatcher that he invited her to view pornography on a city computer.

"I do not feel confident in his ability to continue to lead the Colstrip Police Department," Mayor Rose Hanser said during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Hanser and City Attorney Gary Ryder told The Billings Gazette that Larry Reinlasoder had been reprimanded in the past for making large purchases without the council's approval and using the city's Internet connection to transmit pornographic materials.

Reinlasoder's attorney, Bill D'Alton of Billings, said that neither he nor Reinlasoder would comment on the termination. Reinlasoder had been on paid leave since March 20.

Billings attorney Heather Sather, who was hired by the city to investigate complaints against the chief, said she found some complaints made by female employees to be credible. Among them was one from a dispatcher who said she was invited to watch pornography, and another who said she felt "physically intimidated" during a discussion with Reinlasoder over her time card.

Reinlasoder was invited to discuss Sather's findings Monday, but did not show up. He has 30 days to submit a written appeal to the Colstrip Police Commission.

The termination letter noted that Reinlasoder was reprimanded last September for failing to get city council approval before spending $29,000 on six in-car cameras and that he failed to follow a directive about covering shift changes. The letter said Reinlasoder left work 45 minutes early on March 14 without assigning an officer to cover the remainder of the shift.

Ryder said city officials were expected to release this week Sather's report and public records related to the complaints against Reinlasoder.

Reinlasoder worked for Billings police for 20 years before retiring in 2001, a day before he was to be fired for using city resources to run background checks for his private law enforcement consulting business.

"I was stunned to find that you as the commanding officer in charge and a proponent of our ethics training and certification would even consider engaging in such illegal and blatantly unethical conduct," then-Billings police chief Jim Tussing wrote in Reinlasoder's termination letter.



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