FWP chief enforcement officer on administrative leave, deputy chief absent from duty | 406 Politics
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ top game warden was placed on administrative leave last month and now the deputy chief who was named acting chief is out of office for unspecified reasons.
FWP law enforcement chief Dave Loewen has been out of office since July 13. The agency declined to specify the reasons for his absence, citing personnel policies.
Loewen issued a statement via email when contacted for comment, saying he was placed on administrative leave after raising unspecified issues with the manager’s office.
“After reporting to the Director’s office my concerns about the spread of false rumours, the spread of defamatory comments and inappropriate communication between management and field staff, I in turn have been placed on administrative leave. for allegedly creating a hostile work environment for suggesting that those responsible be held accountable,” Loewen said. “I am confident that ultimately I will be exonerated and returned to my position where I can continue to protect resources. of Montana and ensure that we have the best-trained, best-equipped, and most professional conservation law enforcement officers in the country.”
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Deputy Chief JD Douglas was named Acting Chief in July. On Monday, an FWP spokesman said Douglas was also out of the office but could not specify a reason, again citing staffing issues.
Douglas declined to comment.
Both guards remain employed by FWP.
Ron Howell, former deputy chief and current legislative liaison for FWP, was named acting chief on Monday.
“Ron Howell has a long history as the leader of the enforcement division as a groundskeeper, regional captain and deputy chief enforcement officer,” spokesman Greg Lemon said in a statement. “The application of the FWP is in good hands with Ron as he takes on this acting role.”
Loewen became chef in 2017 after 17 years in the business. His rise to the post of senior director of FWP came after an unusual working arrangement. He successfully challenged the hiring of Thomas Flowers for the job of chief, with the Staff Appeals Board concluding that Loewen had scored higher during the hiring process and should not have been ignored.
Loewen’s absence was first reported by Missoula Current.
Douglas has been with FWP’s law enforcement division since 2001, according to a 2004 article in the Ravalli Republic.
The execution division of FWP recently underwent a structural change. Each of the seven administrative regions of the FWP houses an investigator position which tends to focus on major wildlife crimes. Investigators traditionally reported to each regional captain.
About 18 months ago, FWP centralized the regional investigators in the Special Investigation Unit under the supervision of the headquarters in Helena. Douglas was the captain in charge of the unit until he was named deputy chief earlier this year.
FWP director Hank Worsech recently decided to move oversight of captains to the regions, Lemon said.
“We saw the opportunity to respond more effectively to needs on the ground by transferring oversight from investigators to regional captains,” he said. “Our investigators are still doing the same job and we still have the same number of investigators, they now only report to regional captains.”
Tom Kuglin is Deputy State Bureau Editor of Lee Newspapers. Its coverage focuses on the outdoors, recreation and natural resources.