State looking into former Baker Police Chief's actions
BAKER- The State Legislative Auditor is looking into possible wrongdoing within the Baker Police Department prior to the new chief's arrival.
Current Police Chief Carl Dunn learned last week more than a dozen weapons were stolen ranging from handguns to assault rifles. Within hours of us asking questions about the guns, most were returned. Tonight, former Police Chief Mike Knaps is defending his actions.
A three-page letter details what current Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn says is a host of felony violations.
"The Mayor didn't notify me the weapons were stolen, the auditor did," Dunn said.
Dunn claims high ranking members of the police department watched outgoing Police Chief Mike Knaps carry them out of the department.
"Once the auditor found the weapons missing, that weren't paid for, the auditor was told they were melted down," Dunn said. "He wouldn't let it go until there was documentation that it was melted down."
Tonight, Dunn blames his predecessor for that and more. He says Knaps took taxpayers for a ride, cashing in a per diem check for a conference after he retired as a Baker Police Chief.
The letter sent to the state said, "The per diem was for the aforementioned conference which convened when Former Chief Knaps was no longer a member of the Baker Police Department."
"The (city's) auditor told me he felt that was inappropriate and in violation also," Dunn said.
State Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera said his office is looking into the allegations, and couldn't comment on this matter because of that.
Tonight, former Chief Knaps is defending himself over all the allegations. He admitted he and another recent retiree had seven of the 12 weapons.
"I wanted to keep all of mine," Knaps said.
State law allows law enforcement retirees to keep their duty weapons if they pay for it, but that's all. They can't take multiple other weapons.
"Any municipal police officer who retires with at least twenty years of active service and who is in good standing with the Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System shall be entitled to purchase his firearm at fair market value upon retirement, subject to approval by the chief of police," according to RS 11:2235.
"He says you can't legally have but one," Knaps said. "Well the law says you can purchase your duty weapon. The law was wrote a long time ago."
Moments after that interview, Knaps brought us inside his house to show us the guns he took. After our interview, he brought them all back to city hall.
We asked why he was trying to bring them back if everything was done legally.
"Because he's saying we're trying to get money back," Knaps said. "
As for that conference after Knaps retired, he was given a check two days before he left. Knaps had trouble remembering taxpayers foot the bill for his per diem.
"I did go to the conference but I paid for my own hotel and meals," Knaps said. "I didn't get a per diem."
After showing Knaps the check we obtained, he changed his response.
"I didn't remember that because I cashed it before," Knaps said.
Tonight, Knaps said he sent a check back to the Police Department refunding the $240 for the per diem.
State investigators are also looking into problems with vehicle purchases. Knaps maintains that anything he did was done without ill intent.
Watch WBRZ at 6 p.m. for the story.