Updated: 09/01/2014 7:36 AM
Created: 08/31/2014 7:37 PM KSTP.com
By: Jay Kolls
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has found there are former gang members, some with lengthy rap sheets, working on the payroll with the city of St. Paul.
St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) sources say James Jones Fields works at the Wilder Recreation Center and is supposed to help kids stay away from crime and gangs, but just two weeks ago Fields was arrested and charged with second-degree assault for firing a gun at another man behind a local bar.
Police sources say Fields is a former member of a gang known as the "East Side Boys" and that he still has connections with members of that same gang.
Those same SPPD sources tell us Fields and several other employees with questionable criminal histories work at the Wilder Rec Center and the Arlington Hills Rec Center. SPPD sources tell us those employees have hindered police work and often tip off other gang members and suspects when police are trying to find them to question them about recent crimes.
"This is a real problem, and we need to find out who is doing the background checks on these people and fix this thing," St. Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom said.
Bostrom says St. Paul Park and Recreation Director Michael Hahm needs to "answer some tough questions" about why these employees are on the payroll and what they need to do to make sure "bad guys" don't end up there and hinder police work.
We asked the St. Paul Park and Rec Department for an interview, but they declined, citing privacy laws surrounding personnel that preclude them from commenting. Fields, they say, is still employed while an internal review of his case is underway.