Former West Des Moines Police Employee Defends Former Chief, Others Allege Discrimination

Dianna Leete worked for former West Des Moines Police Chief Shaun LaDue, who was forced to resign Sunday at the request of city leaders following a series of lawsuits, for three years.

“He was a very fair man, I enjoyed working for him,” said Leete, a former West Des Moines Police Department Administrative Assistant. “I learned a lot of things. He challenged me.”

Leete says she'd work for LaDue again in a heartbeat and is sickened by the allegations being made about him.

“Hearing that their getting by with this and they got paid for it, it makes me ill,” she said. “They were asked to do their job is what they were asked to do and step it up just a couple notches.”

Leete says the work environment at the West Des Moines Police Department was the most hostile she'd ever worked in and blames that on the "small group of extremely nasty women that believe they run the department and are being allowed to get away with their actions."

“If you didn`t fit into their group, they`re mean ladies, mean women,” said Leete. “They’re mean. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

But the women Leete is referring to have a very different side of the story.

“Personally, it`s been one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had in my life,” said Alice Wisner, a former West Des Moines Police Department Crime Analyst. “You wonder why women don`t come forward and complain about treatment like this, and now I know.”

Wisner says when she did come forward she was second-guessed, told she was making things up and called crazy.

“I naively thought when we first filed the complaints, that the city would finally say, ‘okay, we`ve got a problem. We need to take a look at this and take care of it,’ and they never did,” said Wisner.

Tanya Zaglauer says LaDue wouldn't let her do her job.

“You were not allowed to have an opinion about anything,” said Zaglauer, a former West Des Moines Police Sergeant. “If you did not do exactly as he would ask you to do than you would be retaliated against. I went from up here to down here within four years.”

Carol Gass says she loved her job, and giving up her law enforcement career to speak out was not an easy choice.

“It was a sacrifice and the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Gass, a former West Des Moines Police Department Animal Control Officer.

With the city paying out settlements, the women are just glad it's over and hope by speaking out they've made a difference.

“I have a daughter that`s going into law enforcement and I hope to God that she never has to deal with anything like this,” said Wisner.

As for the city's search for a new police chief, the women who claim they were discriminated against say they strongly encourage the city to consider hiring a woman to fill that spot, and that it would send a powerful message.