Rural MN police chief sentenced after helping a friend beat a DUI

The thin blue line can be particularly tiny in small towns where the local constables know everybody and watch out for each other in a way that’s a little different than the big city. The potential for conflicts of interest is huge.

In that environment it can sometimes be easy to cross the line. In northwestern Minnesota, Callaway Police Chief Tim Haverkamp, 52, of rural Detroit Lakes, is going to sit in jail for has been sentenced to 90 days in jail (stayed) because of it, the Bemidji Pioneer says.

A friend of his, Stacey Marie Chasensky, hit a guardrail on Highway 59 last February. She was drunk after spending time at Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minn., and he let her skate after she called him.

He showed up the scene of the crash and rather than charge her with drunk driving, he took her to her daughter’s house in Detroit Lakes, presumably to sleep it off.

But they left the car at the scene of the crash and a Minnesota State Patrol trooper came by and noticed that 15 guardrail posts were sheered off.

Maybe this is an example of the cover-up being worse than the crime.

The trooper called dispatch and was told that the police chief was handling the accident and that the woman had hit the guardrails while trying to avoid a deer, the paper says.

The trooper called Chasensky and was told that she had swerved to miss a deer and had run off the road, and didn’t remember hitting a guardrail. She admitted she had drank about four beers at the casino, but said she was under the legal limit, according to a breath test that Haverkamp had administered at the scene. She said Haverkamp told her she smelled like beer and that he did not believe her vehicle had struck a deer.

The trooper talked to Haverkamp, and was told Haverkamp had administered a breath test at the scene and Chasensky had tested at .078 percent blood alcohol level, just under the legal limit of .08 percent. The breathalyzer does not make a record of past tests, so that could not be confirmed on the machine.

A higher-ranking State Patrol officer then took over the investigation, concerned that Haverkamp had “started a case report for a car vs. deer when it was obvious there was no deer involved, that he had not reported the crash that night to the State Patrol, as required, that (Chasensky’s) vehicle had been left at the scene, and that Haverkamp had taken her home approximately four minutes after arriving on the scene.”

But sometimes your cellphone is your worst enemy. Investigators retrieved the police chief’s phone and found the text messages in which the chief told her to tell State Patrol she had been given a breath test.

“I was kind of trying to cover my back — I’m not going to lie about it,” she told investigators. “He didn’t do it. He didn’t do any tests on me.”

It’s not the first time Haverkamp has been a lawman in trouble with the law. When he worked for the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, he was charged with poaching deer from his squad car.

The city clerk in Callaway (pop. 236) says he remains the chief of police there.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)