Promoted Cop with Harassment Rap to Top Job
Sudden Resignation; Cowgirl Exclusive
The head of the Montana Highway Patrol, Kenton Hickethier, is resigning after only seven months on the job, after it was revealed he has a history of making inappropriate remarks to, or about, female employees and black people.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, Hickethier once said of a female trooper with whom he was disappointed, “If she were a man,” the rest of the troopers “would take her behind the woodshed.” On another occasion, he made remarks “in regard to the age of (an unidentified trooper’s) spouse, a joke in regard to a female instructor’s weight, and a comment about (an unidentified trooper) having dinner with black troopers from North Carolina,” according to documents seen by the Tribune. These incidents were noted in his personnel file and he was warned and/or disciplined. These incidents happened prior to his appointment to Highway Chief, as far back as 2008.
And this evening Cowgirl Blog received additional documents, a Human Rights employment suit against Hickethier based on a gender harassment theory, in which Hickenthier is accused of having passed over an officer, Glenn Quinell (the accuser bringing the suit) for promotion because Quinell objected to Hickenthier’s misogynistic comments, and to comments Hickenthier made about Quinnell’s wife. Quinnell also alleges that Hickethier once ordered him to arrest two people for being in America illegally, even though there were no grounds; and that when Quinnell protested, he was reprimanded by Hikcethier. Finally, Hickethier is alleged to have once said to Quinnell, “Once you go black, you never go back,” when Hickethier got upset that Quinnell was out socializing with black state troopers from another state, at a conference, rather than drinking socially with the white Montana team.
Hickethier has not been found guilty of the Human Rights complaint (yet), and one could argue that while his comments and actions are offensive and perhaps actionable, they are not all egregious. But what is certain is that Tim Fox, the Montana Attorney General who promoted Hickethier to Chief, must now answer an embarrassing question: why did you appoint someone to the state’s top police job, when he had a documented history of making such remarks? It’s an almost comical case of incompetence on Fox’s part.
On the one hand, we know the global answer to that question: Republicans (and Hickethier is almost certainly a Republican if he was appointed by Fox) often do not have a basic understanding about the kind of things you shouldn’t say about women and black people. Thus might Fox have simply assumed that there was nothing wrong with the things Hickethier had been disciplined for.
But we are to believe Fox, he says he never knew about these incidents. He claimed today that he had no idea Hickethier had such a record when he hired him, even though someof Hickethier’s several offenses took place as early as 2008 and were listed in his personnel file at the Department of Justice. This means that Fox made undertook no due diligence at all when he appointed Hickethier. Never mind a formal background check, Fox didn’t even bother to look at Hickethier’s personnel file at Montana Dept. of Justice. And this is a very scary thing, because Fox is the state’s highest ranking law enforcement official. This is negligence and incompetence, of the highest order.
One other thing. If you read between the lines, it looks like Fox’s office is trying to claim that Hickethier was already planning to retire, and thus he is not specifically retiring because of these past incidents. That’s pretty obviously a bunch of spin. He was just appointed to the job seven months ago.