UPDATE: Patrol Chief Disciplined Twice for Comments

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — The investigation of a discrimination complaint filed this summer against the former chief of the Montana Highway Patrol led to the discovery that he was officially reprimanded twice for violating a patrol policy that requires officers to treat co-workers with respect and courtesy, the Montana attorney general’s office said.

Col. Kenton Hickethier announced his retirement last week after seven months in the top post.

In preparing its response to the July 10 complaint filed with the state Human Rights Bureau, attorney general’s office spokesman John Barnes said the office “became aware of the fact that Col. Hickethier had been disciplined for two instances of making inappropriate comments to troopers.”

The Department of Labor and Industry has not released the allegations made in the discrimination complaint.

Hickethier was reprimanded for telling a female trooper in March 2008 that other troopers were upset with her and that “if she were a man they would take her behind the woodshed,” the Great Falls Tribune (http://gftrib.com/15XYW38) reported.

His file also contains a reprimand for statements made in August 2011 at a law enforcement meeting in Phoenix. He reportedly made inappropriate comments about the age of a trooper’s spouse, a female instructor’s weight and about a trooper having dinner with black troopers from North Carolina, the Tribune learned after filing a records request.

Hickethier notified Attorney General Tim Fox’s office on Wednesday, Aug. 28 that he planned to retire.

“I regret that I have made inappropriate remarks to subordinates that have compromised my ability to effectively lead Montana’s Highway Patrol by example. Therefore, I have chosen to retire from the patrol,” Hickethier said in a statement released by Fox’s office on Friday.

The announcement was held until after Friday’s graduation ceremony for new Montana Highway Patrol troopers.

Hickethier’s retirement is effective on Sept. 30, but he is no longer on duty and is using leave time until his official retirement date.

Fox’s transition team found no red flags while reviewing Hickethier’s application for chief that would have triggered a review of his personnel file, Barnes said.

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