The top official with the Wyoming Highway Patrol personally informed the state treasurer that journalists were investigating allegations he had threatened violence against state employees prior to the treasurer’s office releasing a statement refuting the allegations, the Casper Star-Tribune has learned.
Col. Kebin Haller, a highway patrol administrator, told the Star-Tribune last Wednesday that he had personally informed Treasurer Curt Meier the department had fulfilled a records request from a reporter at the news site Cowboy State Daily for a March 21 police report, which contains allegations Meier had threatened violence toward state employees.
“In fact, I had actually spoken with Treasurer Meier prior in the investigation,” Haller said, “and as a result of having received a request, I said ‘Hey, just so you know, on the incident back on March 21, we will be releasing that.’”
Meier was not in his office when the Star-Tribune called requesting comment last Wednesday morning.
Last Tuesday, Meier released a statement denying that he made a threat against anyone in Wyoming’s Human Resources Division. The release came before any allegations against Meier had been publicized.
Employees in the Human Resources Division told a trooper that Meier had threatened workers there last month due to issues related to employee retention, according to a copy of a highway patrol incident report. His statements prompted a lockdown, the report states.
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The highway patrol investigated the March 21 incident and concluded no criminal violations had occurred.
Haller, who was personally involved in the response to the incident, said the nature of the allegations and the parties involved played a factor in his handling of the incident. While he said he was not personally involved in the investigation of the allegations contained in the report, he said, the involvement of two statewide elected officials, as well as the administrative staff of the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information, was sufficient cause for him to get involved.
When asked whether this was standard protocol, or if his response could be perceived as giving special treatment to elected officials, Haller said he didn’t believe so, adding that his notifying Meier of the report’s imminent release was merely a follow-up to his checking with officials during the course of the investigation.
“I guess people could see it in a variety of ways,” Haller said. “I thought, as the release of public information, this was going to be public. And we had closed the investigation. As a result, the treasurer’s office has a right to know that it’s coming out for the general public. So no, I don’t think any special circumstances were provided.”
Haller continued that the highway patrol does not always notify someone whose police report was requested as part of a background check.
“For me, the difference is this particular event began as a criminal investigation, but no criminal violation was identified as a result of the ... investigation,” Haller said in a written response.
The highway patrol provided the report to a journalist for Cowboy State Daily at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, roughly 40 minutes before Meier’s office released a statement refuting the allegations. Prior to the statement’s release, the news site had not yet contacted Meier’s office for comment, according to a journalist with the website.