K-9 officer fired, 2 others suspended

K-9 officer fired, 2 others suspended

Department's internal affairs investigation finds officers falsified police dogs'certifications

August 16th, 2003 by Dick Cook in Local Regional News

Police Officer Iran Meadows

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

Chattanooga Police Department officials fired one K-9 officer and suspended two others after an internal affairs probe concluded they falsified police dogs' certifications, officials said Friday.

Officer Iran Meadows, the department's head trainer, was fired Thursday, department officials said. Charges of submitting false documents, untruthfulness during an internal affairs investigation, neglect of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer were sustained against the 12-year department veteran.  "Officer Meadows was found to be the author of the documents," said Capt. Mark Rawlston, supervisor of internal affairs. "Officer Meadows continued to be untruthful during the investigation."  Officer Meadows did not return phone calls Friday seeking comment.

Officers Mark Haley and Ruth Bowman each were suspended for 21 days without pay. The veteran officers were charged with falsifying documents, lying to internal affairs investigators, neglect of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer. Each will serve a six-month probationary period, officials said Friday.

Officer Haley declined to comment on the disciplinary action. Officer Bowman could not be reached for comment.  In early June, the Chattanooga Times Free Press asked Sgt. Dennis Pedigo, the police department's K-9 coordinator, to produce certifications by the United States Police Canine Association for the department's six police dogs. These dogs are used to detect drugs, patrol streets and sniff out explosive devices.  Department policy requires each dog and handler to be certified by the organization before being put into service, officials said.

Certificates were produced for five of the six dogs, including Officer Bowman's dog Casper and Viper, Officer Haley's dog. Those dogs' certificates appeared to have been doctored, police officials said.  When department officials checked with the U.S. Police Canine Association, they found the organization had no record of Casper or Viper receiving narcotics detection certificates at an April dog trial held in Chattanooga, Deputy Chief Charles Cooke said in June.

According to the internal affairs report, Officer Meadows "knowingly submitted falsified copies of his own certificate in the names of Officer Haley and Officer Bowman."

The report found that Officer Meadows used his own legitimate certificate to make copies for the other officers' dogs, officials said.

"Officer Meadows states he had no knowledge of how falsified documents were submitted when they are in fact copies of a document only he has had custody and control over," the report states.

Concerning the charge of neglect of duty, the report states, "as a trainer ... Officer Meadows is negligent for not tracking the progress and success of the animals undergoing the certification process at the USPCA Trials."

Officer Meadows told internal affairs investigators he "received information (from) Officer Bowman's information packet and made copies without looking at them and turned those copies in to Sgt. Pedigo."

The report states Officer Meadows gave conflicting accounts of who gave him Officer Haley's packet. Officer Meadows maintained that he copied that information without looking at it and submitted it to Sgt. Pedigo, the report states.

"Officer Meadows further states he was too busy hosting the trials to keep up with who had or had not certified," the report states.

Capt. Rawlston said Officer Haley was "not a party to the creation or submission of the documents." He said Officer Bowman was out of town when the documents were created. Officer Bowman told internal affairs investigators she never looked in her information packet after the April trials to see if she and Casper were certified.  "Officer Bowman states she has no knowledge of how a false document was submitted," the report states.

Officer Haley told investigators he "never picked his information packet up and has no knowledge of how a false document was submitted."

Last month, the department replaced Officer Meadows as head trainer with Officer Nathan Vaughn. It also posted job openings for two K-9 handlers, officials said.


E-mail Dick Cook at dcook@timesfreepress.com

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com