Connell police chief investigated for allegedly misusing work cellphone

Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 18, 2013 

Connell police Chief Michael Kessler is under investigation for allegedly watching pornography on a city-issued cellphone and for a sexual harassment claim, a city official said Wednesday.

The city received at least one complaint that Kessler was using the phone to watch pornography, confirmed Mayor Gary Walton.

Kessler's cellphone and computer were taken by a private investigator after the complaint to be searched. Information was "extracted" from the devices and is being reviewed, said Dan Hultgrenn, Connell's city attorney.

The private investigator was hired by the city through its insurance carrier Canfield Insurance but reports directly to Hultgrenn.

City officials declined to give any more information about the ongoing investigation.

"We are trying to go carefully and the allegations are just allegations," Hultgrenn said. "We need to be thorough and not get ahead of ourselves."

Kessler, who has been chief of police for about three years, declined to talk about the allegations. He has been working his normal schedule since the start of the investigation.

Hultgrenn said two different complaints were recently filed against Kessler.

One was a sexual harassment complaint, Walton said. But he would not say what the second involved.

Officials declined to comment on the specifics of any of the complaints, except to say that a complaint filed in late August sparked the investigation.

"That was the trigger that suggested we need to look into things," Hultgrenn said.

The investigation is in its "latter stages," though there is no timetable for when it will be completed, Hultgrenn said.

City employees are allowed some personal use of their city-issued phones as long as it doesn't add to the cost of maintaining the phone, Hultgrenn said.

Viewing pornography on a city-issued device is against department policy, he said.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; Twitter; @Ty_richardson

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