DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Director Arlen Ciechanowski faced some tough questions from Senate lawmakers Thursday morning at a confirmation hearing for his re-appointment to the position.
Ciechanowski has served as director of the agency since 1996 and was re-appointed to the position by Governor Terry Branstad. In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, lawmakers questioned him over several controversies within the agency during his tenure as director. Most notably was the issue of an investigation that found former Assistant Director Michael Quinn in violation of anti-discrimination and violence-free workplace policies.
"In the time that I've been there now, we've replaced right at 50 percent of the law enforcement instructors," he said. "So many of the issues that you refer to, have been taken care of by different means; terminations, and those types of things."
Controversy rose in 2012 after ILEA instructor Nancy Brady filed the complaints against Quinn, alleging he told her he would "slit her throat." Brady was soon let go, while Quinn was reprimanded after the incident but allowed to keep his job. Quinn announced in April 2014 he would step down at the end of June, and the ILEA chose to terminate him two weeks before his resignation - a move Brady called in a statement at the time as "political."
“Removing Mike Quinn two weeks before he was already leaving seems a little silly to me," Brady's statement at the time said. "I believe it is a political move just to show effort on the part of someone since he worked two years after the students complained about him.”
However, in the hearing Thursday, Senator Janet Peterson (D-Des Moines) expressed concern over Ciechanowski's handling of the incident. The director explained the investigation was handled externally by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.
"We're a small agency, and we didn't handle the investigation," he said. "We turned the investigation over to DAS, and I followed their recommendations. At that time...DAS advised me, when a person is a non-contract individual in a supervisory position, when you give that person a suspension, it has to be with-pay. Apparently, the state cannot take that money from them. And so, we followed their recommendations in that regard. Later, when the law changed and that position was made an at-will position, I felt there was no longer a need for that individual, and that individual was terminated."
Ciechanowski also defended the firing of Brady as having "nothing to do with retaliation."
"I don't think I can share the reason with you, because it's a personnel issue, but I will tell you, it was a very, very grave violation of rules and - quite frankly, could have been a criminal issue, also," he said.
The re-appointment of Ciechanowski as Director of the ILEA will now go to the full Senate chamber for confirmation.