St. Paul Fire Chief Disciplined For Retaliation

October 12, 2017 11:06 PM

New documents show the St. Paul fire chief got in trouble for retaliating against an employee, who filed a complaint about him, according to a written reprimand made public Thursday.

The letter, sent to Chief Tim Butler from St. Paul's Deputy Mayor Kristin Beckmann, is the result of a complaint that ended this week with disciplinary action.


The letter is dated December 22, 2016, but Human Resources director Angie Nalezny said this particular investigation was appealed by Butler. The appeal was denied late Tuesday. State statute allows closed complaints that result in disciplinary action to public records.

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While the details are heavily redacted from the written reprimand, the deputy mayor's message to Chief Butler is clear - Butler retaliated against the person who filed a formal complaint against him.

Beckmann explains that an investigation found that during a phone conversation, Butler, "repeatedly questioned why that person filed a complaint."

"Your acknowledgment of the complaint and questioning the complainant equates to intimidation by a superior officer," the letter explains.

Beckmann later explains to Butler this is the "third investigation" into his behavior of violating a city policy in 2016.

"In those written communications after each investigation, I also was clear that there should be no retaliation against the complainant," she wrote. "For this and the fact that this is the third instance involving a violation this year, I am issuing you a Written Reprimand."

At the end of the letter to Butler, Beckmann warns him about any further city code violations.

"I want to put you on notice that if any other infraction of the Workplace Conduct Policy takes place, there will be more severe discipline," Beckmann writes.

A spokesperson for Mayor Chris Coleman send a short statement, saying in part that the mayor, "will not tolerate a supervisor treating any city employee in a disrespectful manner."

The St. Paul Firefighters Union Local 21 president Mike Smith also responded to the written reprimand, saying in a statement that, "firefighters have a stressful enough job as it is and to put up with harassment and retaliation from a fire chief is unacceptable."



Kirsten Swanson

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