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Western Minn. police chief sentenced for helping friend avoid DUI; keeps his job

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — A small town police chief in western Minnesota has been sentenced on a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge, for an incident in which he helped a friend avoid a DWI after she crashed her car into a guardrail on Highway 59.

Callaway Police Chief Tim Haverkamp, 52, of rural Detroit Lakes, was originally charged in Becker County District Court with two gross misdemeanor counts of misconduct — failing to perform his duty and making a false document, and a misdemeanor count of obstructing the legal process. The charges were dropped or reduced in a plea agreement.

He was sentenced in District Court on Oct. 5 to pay a $500 fine and $75 in court fees and serve 90 days in jail, stayed provided he paid all fines and fees by Nov. 1, and no additional violations occur within the next year.

He remains the police chief of Callaway, according to City Clerk Shelly Dillon. Neither Haverkamp nor Callaway Mayor Gretchen Stalboerger returned calls for comment.

The Otter Tail County Attorney's Office handled the case for conflict of interest reasons. Haverkamp was represented by attorney Robert Thorwaldsen of Detroit Lakes.

According to court records, at about 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 25, Stacey Marie Chasensky of Blaine, Minn., crashed her vehicle into a guardrail on Highway 59 north of Callaway. She was going home after drinking and spending time with a friend at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen.

Chasensky was friends with Haverkamp from when they were co-workers at the casino, before he became a Callaway police officer, and she called him on his personal phone after the crash. The call went to voicemail and she left a message.

Haverkamp responded to the scene of the crash, spent four minutes there, and then took Chasensky to her daughter's house in Detroit Lakes.

Her vehicle was left at the scene, although it was pulled off the highway. The next day, a passing state trooper saw it there and noticed it had obviously been involved in an accident — a guardrail had been struck, and 15 of the cable-bearing posts had been sheared off.

Evidence seemed to show that the vehicle had drifted from the right lane into the oncoming lane of traffic and then into the guardrail on the left side of the road.

The trooper called dispatch to inquire about the crash, and was advised that Haverkamp had made contact with the vehicle, which had been involved in a collision with a deer.

That didn't jibe with what the trooper saw at the scene, which didn't look like a car-deer collision. He noted the lack or fur or blood that would have come with a vehicle hitting a deer.

He also noted that neither the call for service nor Haverkamp's written report indicated damage done to the guardrail or cable-bearing posts.

The trooper called Chasensky and was told that she had swerved to miss a deer and had run off the road, and didn't remember hitting a guardrail. She admitted she had drank about four beers at the casino, but said she was under the legal limit, according to a breath test that Haverkamp had administered at the scene. She said Haverkamp told her she smelled like beer and that he did not believe her vehicle had struck a deer.

The trooper talked to Haverkamp, and was told Haverkamp had administered a breath test at the scene and Chasensky had tested at .078 percent blood alcohol level, just under the legal limit of .08 percent. The breathalyzer does not make a record of past tests, so that could not be confirmed on the machine.

A higher-ranking State Patrol officer then took over the investigation, concerned that Haverkamp had "started a case report for a car vs. deer when it was obvious there was no deer involved, that he had not reported the crash that night to the State Patrol, as required, that (Chasensky's) vehicle had been left at the scene, and that Haverkamp had taken her home approximately four minutes after arriving on the scene."

The case was turned over to an Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office investigator for conflict-of-interest reasons.

A search warrant was obtained for Haverkamp's cellphone, and texts were recovered between Haverkamp and Chasensky.

In one text conversation between Haverkamp and Chasensky between Feb. 25 and Feb. 27, she asked him to tell an investigator that he had given her a breath test at the scene.

"Will you tell him I blew under (the legal limit)? So they don't come after me for that, too."

On March 13, the investigator interviewed Chasensky and she told him she had been looking at her phone when a deer ran out in front of her vehicle, causing her to swerve and lose control. She didn't realize she had hit anything, but called Haverkamp after she realized she had a flat tire.

She then denied that Haverkamp had ever given her sobriety tests or a breath test at the scene.

Asked why her story changed, she said "I was kind of trying to cover my back — I'm not going to lie about it. He didn't do it. He didn't do any tests on me."

Two days later, the detective interviewed Haverkamp at the Callaway Event Center. Haverkamp was adamant that he had given her a breath test, but said she wouldn't get off her phone at the time and may not have remembered it. He swore everything in his report was true and accurate.

By way of comparison, the detective examined four prior DWI reports done by Haverkamp between 2014 and 2016.

"All the reports seem to be professionally written and adhere to standards expected of professional law enforcement with regards to a DWI investigation," he wrote. "It does appear the defendant intentionally chose not to conduct an adequate crash and DWI investigation when it involved his friend and acquaintance, S.M.C. (Chasensky)"

Haverkamp has been on the wrong side of criminal charges before. He parted ways with the Becker County Sheriff's Office, where he was a deputy from 2001 to 2008, after being charged with several gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor hunting offenses for allegedly poaching deer from his squad car while on duty.

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