Human Rights Bureau Rules Missoula Sheriff’s Detective Was Victim of Unlawful Discrimination [AUDIO] [DOCUMENT]
In a report released Friday, January 17, the Montana Human Rights Bureau ruled that Missoula Sheriff's Office Detective Specialist Two Jason Johnson was the victim of unlawful discrimination by Sheriff Carl Ibsen.
The report states that Sheriff Ibsen was upset that Johnson had joined with another officer, T.J. McDermott, who had made plans to run for sheriff, and that Johnson had agreed to serve as his undersheriff. Johnson claims the discrimination was political in nature.
"I believe that I was politically discriminated against,and retaliatory behavior happened after that, because of my support for T.J. McDermott for sheriff," Johnson said. "After I made that claim, a third-party investigator from the Human Rights Bureau came in and talked to several different witnesses and came to his own conclusion that what I was charging in my complaint was something that was good enough to result in a reasonable cause finding."
Johnson said his difficulties were not just with Sheriff Ibsen.
"It's not just Sheriff Ibsen, who, by the way I've admired for a very long time," Johnson said. "It's him and his command staff that have initiated this behavior, and what I wanted from the beginning was this discriminatory behavior to stop. Unfortunately, that has not occurred."
Johnson was appointed the Public Information Officer to work with the media and head up the social media aspect of the office in 2011. However, in early 2013, Johnson and McDermott began talking about running for sheriff. In April of 2013, Sheriff Ibsen informed Johnson that he was being removed from the PIO position because "he didn't want to sideline (Johnson's) career." Johnson believes that Ibsen removed him from the PIO position because of his support for McDermott.
"One of the claims that was made was that I was using the Sheriff's Office Facebook page to promote McDermott for sheriff," Johnson said. "That claim was also looked into by the Human Rights Bureau investigator and found to be untrue."
Regarding McDermott, the report states that Sheriff Ibsen told another officer that he would "do anything in his power to keep (McDermott) from being elected." Ibsen also reportedly said to the same officer, "Now that I know he's (McDermott) going to run, I don't want to turn this over to him. I'm considering I'll run again."
Johnson said the issue now will be decided by a third party in Helena.
"My understanding is that we'll have a hearing in front of a judge who is a human rights attorney," Johnson said. "What I want is for it (the discriminatory behavior) to stop. This report is a validation that what I've been claiming is not out in left field. What I also want, is there to be some kind of oversight over the sheriff's office, but they didn't want the Human Rights Bureau coming in and monitoring the sheriff's office. That's what I would like most of all. It's not about the money, although I have lost some pay by being removed from the PIO position, I just want the sheriff's office to be a fair place for everybody to work at."
Missoula Sheriff's Office Detective Specialist Two Jason Johnson