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Accused of stealing ammo and trying to sell it on Facebook, police officer loses badge

Robert Griffiths, executive director of Alaska Police Standards Council, and chairman Sheldon...
Robert Griffiths, executive director of Alaska Police Standards Council, and chairman Sheldon Schmitt, chief of Sitka Police Department. (KTUU photo by Patrick Enslow.) (KTUU)
Published: Sep. 28, 2016 at 2:04 PM AKDT
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An Anchorage airport police officer has lost his Alaska law enforcement certificate after allegedly stealing thousands of rounds of ammunition from the job. Security cameras caught it on video.

James M. “Mike” Oden Jr. took four cases of ammo, containing 900 rounds per case, on or about November 9, 2015, according to a formal accusation by the Alaska Police Standards Council. Later that month, a post appeared on the “Eagle River AK Virtual Yard Sale” Facebook page by someone using Mike Oden Jr.’s account.

The post showed an open case of federal ammunition of the same size and type that Oden was recorded removing from the airport, according to police standards council documents. Another airport police officer saw the ad and texted Oden recommending that he take it down because “it looked bad.”

Oden texted back saying the ammo was his and he had a receipt to prove it.

Oden's was among six cases the police standards council acted on at a meeting last month. The council investigates complaints of misconduct against Alaska police officers, probation and corrections officers. It can vote to remove an officer's certification, making them unable to work at police departments or correctional institutions around the country.

During an administrative investigation, Oden admitted taking the four cases of ammo and said he was going to use them for “training while off duty.” He acknowledged that it “was not reasonable for anyone to take four cases of ammunition to train by themselves,” according to the accusation.

Investigators concluded that Oden used the department’s ammunition for his personal use, committed theft, and otherwise misused the department’s property and equipment. He resigned instead of being fired on February 3, 2016.

At a teleconferenced meeting in Juneau last month, the council formally revoked Oden’s police officer certification.

The council also took action against a number of other sworn officers, including Michael A. Dingman, a former prison guard and freelance columnist for Alaska Dispatch News.

Dingman was hired as a correctional officer by the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) in February 2005. In February 2016, the department opened an internal investigation into allegations Dingman was engaging in “undue familiarity” with a female inmate at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River, according to council reports.

Dingman also was alleged to have abandoned his post while on duty, and causing or directing staff to record false or misleading information into DOC logbooks.

A little over a month after DOC launched its investigation, Dingman resigned. He signed a letter the same day saying he understood that by resigning while under investigation, “I will lose my APSC certification and that I will be unable to be certified as a law enforcement officer anywhere else in the country.”

The police standards council revoked his certification on August 16.

Neither Oden nor Dingman could be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, parole officer David W. Wilson is appealing the council’s decision to take away his certification. He's also suing the state for wrongful termination and violating his constitutional right to due process.

The council took action against Wilson, hired in 1998, after investigators for the Department of Corrections determined he allegedly coerced a staff member under his supervision to give him prescription drugs including methadone and oxycodone, according to the accusation.

According to the accusation against Wilson, a DOC employee identified as “R.T.” told investigators that Wilson created an unprofessional work environment by forcing her to share her prescription medications on four or five occasions between 2011 and 2014.

Wilson, R.T.’s boss, knew what medications she was taking, including sedatives, according to the accusation.

When she would call in sick, Wilson “would come to her house unannounced, uninvited, and ask her for her prescription medications.”

“R.T. stated that the respondent targeted her on days when she was vulnerable and did not have complete control of her cognitive functions,” the accusation states.

DOC’s internal investigators had three meetings with Wilson. On advice of his lawyer, he declined to answer questions, according to the accusation. The department fired him on April 5.

The council has not revoked his certification pending his appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Wilson's attorney said the state has treated his client "like garbage."

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Mark Choate says the state wrongfully terminated Wilson and violated his constitutional rights. State officials treated Wilson unfairly by telling him he had a right to not answer questions that could result in a criminal prosecution, while also advising him that if he wasn't forthcoming it would amount to insubordination and cause for his dismissal.

Choate said Wilson was a model state employee with an exemplary work history for nearly 20 years.

"I'm going to hold the state accountable," Choate said.

The state has until mid-October to respond to the complaint, he said.

Bob Griffiths, executive director of the police standards council, said the panel is aware of the suit but it has no bearing on the administrative case, which is independent of any employment actions.

Integrity is vital to the law enforcement profession, he noted.

"The Council holds members of the Alaska criminal justice community to high standards and dishonesty is not tolerated,” said Griffiths.

Alaska is part of a national program to track de-certified or unqualified individuals and prevent them from becoming rogue cops, correctional officers, or probation/parole officers. It’s called the National Decertification Index.

“Once determined ineligible for certification, having their certifications revoked, or surrendering their certificates, Alaskan officers are entered into this system to prevent them from easily moving to another part of the country and getting hired by a department that fails to conduct a thorough background investigation. This system is checked for all Alaskan applicants,” Griffiths said.

Got a news tip? Contact KTUU Senior Digital Reporter Paula Dobbyn at pdobbyn@ktuu.com, 907-762-9242, or @pauladobbyn