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October 21, 2003
St. Paul's Outreach Program Gets Results ....

... only maybe not the ones they're hoping for:

Patrons at Lucy's Saloon watched in amazement around 1 a.m. Sunday when the man they say started a bar-clearing brawl began barking orders at police officers who arrived to quell it — and the officers responded.

The man turned out to be St. Paul police Sgt. Jon Loretz, the son of Police Chief William Finney. On Monday, the department referred an investigation into the fight to the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to avoid a conflict of interest, Finney said.

For Sgt. Jon Loretz, "outreach" involves "scream[ing] slurs against homosexuals" and getting into a number of "scuffles", such as these:

"This guy, this big guy — he was actually swinging on women," Hill said Monday.

He was choking one woman when bar security stopped him, she said. Then he began to verbally attack Noble, who was trying to kick Loretz out of the bar. Hill said he yelled, "You want to act like a man, I'll treat you like a man."

Hill then said she saw Loretz smash a beer bottle over the head of Treseler. Treseler was immediately knocked out.

What happened afterwards was even more disturbing for St. Paul residents:

As Noble tried to get him out of the bar, Loretz kept saying that he was a police officer and that he could have the bar closed down, Noble said. ... Then, as police officers arrived, Loretz told them he had things under control, Noble and others said. Hill said the officers were leaving when Noble began to object and called KSTP-TV, Channel 5. ... "They let him walk away," said Noble, who expected the responding police officers to at least question Loretz. "I knew it was somebody important because they started taking orders from him." Police said Loretz wasn't questioned until several hours later and was not given a sobriety test.

Police Chief Finney at least made the right call in turning over the investigation to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension -- a state agency -- and recusing the St. Paul police from any active role. He said, "I want there to be no question that my role as a father in any way influenced this investigation." The BCA should fully investigate Sgt. Loretz's service record to see if there have been any other incidents of this type that can be substantiated and determine whether the police department covered them up, as apparently started to happen here with lower-level officers. Loretz's arrogance in this incident, if true, bespeaks a man who has wielded unwarranted power in the past and does not believe himself to be accountable. There can be no excuse for peace officers who behave in this manner, nor for those who would protect them.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 21, 2003 7:37 AM

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