Crime fighters gone rogue

2 ex-Gang Strike Force members are suspended by Ramsey County

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2011 - 1:59 PM

The suspensions are believed to be the first punishments in the saga of the Strike Force, which was disbanded in July amid allegations that its members broke the law while seizing possessions from suspected drug dealers.

Two Ramsey County sheriff's deputies were suspended Saturday for actions they took while serving in the now-defunct Metro Gang Strike Force.

Deputies Paul Meskan and Chris Tayson were both cited for improper handling of evidence, the office said. Meskan was suspended for 25 days, Tayson for 10.

The suspensions are believed to be the first punishments in the saga of the Strike Force, which was disbanded in July amid allegations that its members broke the law while seizing possessions from suspected drug dealers.

An investigation found that much of the unit's work centered on low-level drug violations while employing questionable use of the state's forfeiture laws to take televisions, laptop computers, cash, cars and recreational equipment such as water scooters from suspects, sometimes for personal use.

The unit's implosion led to a legislative hearing, a state investigation, and an ongoing FBI investigation in which 10 to 12 members of the 34-member unit are suspected of misconduct, according to Andy Luger, a former assistant U.S. attorney who co-led the state's investigation at the request of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion.

Meskan was one of those named by Luger in his report, according to a spokeswoman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. Tayson was not named by Luger, but had turned himself in for something he had done that broke the sheriff's policies. No more details were provided Saturday.

Also, former Strike Force clerk Cindy Gehlsen remains suspended with pay from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

Others named in Luger's report include several officers from the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments. Neither department would reveal who the officers are, saying they have started their own internal investigations.

Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329

  • about this series

  • In 2009, the Metro Gang Strike Force was shut down amid state and federal investigations. It was Minnesota's worst law enforcement meltdown in decades. The Star Tribune broke the first stories about the unit's troubles and the newspaper's dogged reporting ultimately showed what led to its demise.
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  • Crime fighters gone rogue

    Monday July 23, 2012

    In 2009, the Metro Gang Strike Force was shut down amid state and federal investigations. It was Minnesota's worst law enforcement meltdown in decades. The Star Tribune broke the first...

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