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Gang Strike Force, start to finish

  • March 23, 2011 - 1:57 PM

1997

Minnesota Gang Strike Force created by the Legislature. Former St. Paul police lieutenant Ron Ryan named commander.

2003

Lawmakers eliminate most of the unit's funding.

2005

Lawmakers replace statewide entity with smaller Metro Gang Strike Force. Extra funding provided for 20 drug and gang units around the state.

2008

October: Ryan retires. ... State Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion orders an internal probe after discovering unusually large cash deposits by Strike Force members.

2009

Jan. 20: Capt. Chris Omodt of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department becomes new Strike Force commander.

February: Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles begins Strike Force audit following a request from Campion and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

April 5: First Strike Force scandal goes public when Omodt slams expense of sending six officers to Hawaii for a conference.

May 20: Nobles blasts lack of internal controls, finds Strike Force can't account for $18,000 in cash and 13 vehicles. Also notes lack of meaningful oversight.

Night of May 20: Strike Force members shred documents at their New Brighton headquarters. Omodt suspends Strike Force operations.

May 27: FBI launches Strike Force investigation. Campion also commissions a state investigation led by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Luger and retired FBI agent John Egelhof.

July 17: News reports show that Strike Force advisory board chairman Bud Shaver personally intervened in a January Strike Force case, prompting investigators to delay searching a vehicle driven by his daughter that was allegedly involved in a home invasion. ... Campion permanently shuts down the Strike Force.

July 30: Minneapolis attorney Randy Hopper files lawsuit claiming the Strike Force acted unconstitutionally and targeted "vulnerable aliens."

Aug. 20: Luger and Egelhof issue a report alleging that Strike Force members committed crimes by taking home property they seized during their police operations. Luger says 10 to 12 officers are implicated in misconduct.

Aug. 28: Strike Force supervisor Randall Olson, under suspension for alleged misconduct, resigns from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Sept. 2: Police launch internal investigations of Strike Force officers after Luger briefs commanders on misconduct.

Sept. 22: Officer David Garman fired by Minneapolis Police Department for Strike Force misconduct.

Oct. 31: Federal and local officials announce plans to form a Twin Cities Safe Streets Task Force, to be made up of Minneapolis and St. Paul police officers, FBI agents and other federal investigators. U.S. Attorney Todd Jones says the Justice Department in Washington has assumed responsibility for prosecuting any Strike Force cases.

Nov. 19: Cindy Gehlsen, longtime office manager for the Strike Force, is fired for misconduct by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Two Ramsey County deputies were previously suspended for Strike Force misconduct.

RANDY FURST

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