The Dakota County attorney's office is reviewing allegations that Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan violated the state's Data Practices Act and improperly used the department's kennel to board his family dog.

Dakota County attorney Jim Backstrom was informed Wednesday that the cases were being referred to his office by Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman because of a conflict of interest. He declined to speculate on the potential range of charges.

Dolan was unavailable for comment Wednesday, and a city spokesman said it would be improper to discuss the investigation.

Lt. John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, said that in his 21 years on the force, he couldn't recall a chief under investigation for possible criminal charges. The police union raised the allegations with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

"Anything in the department that involves criminal activity or ethics and what the department stands for starts at the top," he said. "These are very serious to me."

Last month, Dolan sent an e-mail to Mayor R.T. Rybak and the City Council about boarding his dog at the kennel. In the past, officers have been allowed to take their own dogs to stay at the kennel provided there was available space, he wrote.

"I took Max there for a week in March. It was the first time for Max and he will not be staying there again," Dolan wrote. "Since then, I have received a complaint about my use of the kennel and this practice. The complaint is being reviewed. I take this complaint seriously and we are reviewing our practices to see if we need to make any changes."

Dolan also agreed to donate $200 to the kennel. Delmonico said that Max was at the kennel for 10 days and that Dolan supplied his own dog food. Delmonico learned about Max's visit from two officers who were upset about taking care of the chief's dog.

"Department policy allows only canine officers to leave their work dog or personal pet at the kennel," he said. "The current canine staff said they had no documentation of any officers leaving their dogs at the kennel in the last 10 years. This would be like six officers painting Dolan's house while on duty."

The allegation involving the Data Practices Act stems from testimony by Dolan at a deposition about a defamation lawsuit filed by Sgt. Charlie Adams three months ago. Adams contends Dolan's comments to the Star Tribune in November about his transfer from the homicide unit were false and defamatory.

Attorney Chris Wachtler said, "Dolan said some things in the deposition that indicated in his own mind there might be some data practices consequences for what he was saying. The act says if you violate it willfully, you could be subject to prosecution."

Adams, a respected former detective, also is involved in a discrimination suit against the department involving four other black officers.

Adams was transferred in November after publicly contradicting his supervisor, Lt. Amelia Huffman, about the killing of bicyclist Mark Loesch in south Minneapolis.

In announcing charges in the death nearly two months later, Huffman said a suspect told police Loesch was in the area to buy drugs.

In a Star Tribune article several days later, Adams said there was no proof of a drug deal. Adams and his partner on that case, Sgt. Richard Zimmerman, later apologized to Loesch's family.

Adams was sent to the investigations unit in the Fourth Precinct, which covers the city's North Side. He now is being transferred to night-shift supervisor in the Fifth Precinct.

Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report. David Chanen • 612-673-4465