INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: More fallout tied to former Baker Police Chief
BAKER- Tonight, there are new allegations of wrongdoing surrounding former Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps. It follows our first report last night. That's when we uncovered a handful of weapons that belong to the Baker Police Department vanished.
Turns out, they were taken by Former Police Chief Mike Knaps, who retired recently. When we poked around, he returned them.
Tuesday morning, a team of employees at Baker City Hall processed assault rifles, glocks, and shot guns. The weapons were inspected and turned over to Baker Police. An auditor discovered they were missing from the city's inventory a few weeks ago. Baker Mayor Darnell Waites said he didn't report them stolen, because the auditor said they were missing even though he learned about it three weeks ago.
"Everything the auditor asked for that he could not find over there, we sent someone to get it or they have someone looking for it," Waites said. "It's a mess."
Tonight, there are new questions about the former chief's actions. They center around a police vehicle Knaps purchased. An ordinance passed by the Baker City Council in March of this year listed the Baker Police Department's 2013 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab, with VIN number 3GCPCSE0XDG260501, as surplus. Typically, surplus items go through a public auction. But, not that truck. Instead, it was traded in and documents the Investigative Unit obtained show the person who owns it now is former Police Chief Mike Knaps. Knaps admits he bought it as soon as it was turned in.
"It was in decent shape, and it was a decent price," Knaps said.
But, it's raising ethical questions about whether listing the truck as surplus then trading it in was done to circumvent the public auction processs.
"It was traded in to Gerry Lane and I went and bought it as a used car," Knaps said.
We asked if that was done as soon as it went back on the lot.
"Mmmhmmm," Knaps replied.
Tonight, City Attorney Ken Fabre says he would not have done what Former Chief Mike Knaps did, and neither would current Mayor Darnell Waites over the appearance of impropriety since city employees are prevented from participating in public auctions. Fabre said the council had no idea when the vehicle was listed as surplus that Former Chief Knaps was going to buy it.
"It's clearly understood if you are an employee or a department head or on the staff, then red flag should go up and you should ask questions before you effectuate a purchase of surplussed items," Fabre said.
As the state zeros in on what was going on in Baker under the former chief's leadership, newly-elected Mayor Waites says this cloud that hangs over the town isn't good for business.
"It's concerning to all of us... to think, what else is going on," Waites said.
The truck was traded in on April 14 of this year, according to the City of Baker. Knaps said he bought it right then. That means he was still Chief at the time he made the purchase, since he didn't retire until June 30th.
Monday, Knaps said that anything he did was without ill intent. We showed you yesterday, he cashed a check worth $240 for a per diem that was paid to him for a conference after he retired. He wrote a check back to the City after WBRZ began asking questions.