Iowa Police Agency Fires Trooper Who Had Been On Long Leave

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s state police agency fired a trooper on Tuesday for alleged misconduct, days after acknowledging the employee had quietly been on paid leave for 10 months.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said trooper Wade Karp was terminated for violating department rules, including those that govern employee conduct. The department refused to elaborate further on the details of Karp’s alleged misconduct, and didn’t explain what took so long to investigate and render a decision on Karp’s discipline.

The Associated Press first reported last week that Karp, a 10-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, had been kept on paid administrative leave since Sept. 5, 2017. He has collected roughly $50,000 in salary since then.

Karp declined comment Tuesday when reached on his cellphone. An official with the State Police Officers Council, a union which represented Karp during the investigation, didn’t immediately return a phone message.

Karp was based at the patrol’s Post 16 in Des Moines, which helps patrol the Capitol and other state buildings. The AP also reported last week that Karp was responsible for a service weapon that discharged inside the Post 16 office in December 2016. It’s unclear if that incident was accidental or linked to his termination.

In a statement released by department lawyer Barbara Edmondson, the agency said Tuesday that all other information related to Karp’s leave and termination “is confidential and protected from disclosure” under the Iowa open records law. The statement cited a law that exempts personal information in “confidential personnel records” from disclosure.

The AP is protesting that position, noting that an Iowa law that took effect last year requires state and local government agencies to release the “documented reasons and rationale” for terminating or demoting public employees. Agencies often release copies of termination letters to satisfy that requirement, but it isn’t settled how much information has to be released.

In a department email Tuesday, Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan notified employees of Karp’s termination but didn’t provide additional details, saying personnel actions are confidential.

“Public employees may not enjoy the very same privacy as employees in the private sector, but public employees have the same concerns about defamation, libel or slander, and they are just as affected by disrespectful conversations and speculation,” she wrote.

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