HAVRE - A City Council member says he has received an alarming number of complaints about police conduct, including allegations of intimidation and illegal searches.
Allen "Woody" Woodwick sent a letter to Mayor Bob Rice, dated Jan. 8, saying the frequency of complaints suggested a problem that needed to be looked into.
"I have been receiving numerous complaints about the conduct of some of our younger police officers," Woodwick wrote. "Because of the alarming frequency of these complaints, they cannot be dismissed as frivolous or merely people disgruntled over receiving a ticket."
Rice said Tuesday he had also heard complaints and was working with Police Chief Kevin Olson on the issue.
Olson said the reports are an "extreme concern," but noted that his department has not received any formal complaints against officers, a process that would require the allegations to be investigated.
"If the citizens have a complaint, they need to come in or call. We will initiate a process to look into the situation," he said.
Woodwick said he was worried that the complaints against officers "will leave our city in a vulnerable position with regards to lawsuits and civil rights violations."
He told the Havre Daily News that the complaints he has received have varied.
"Some of the people that complained felt that the police came into their house without just cause," he said. "Females being frisked, I got a couple calls on that - high school girls, teenagers being frisked. Some of the conduct, the complainants felt that the conduct wasn't professional."
Woodwick said he met last week with the police chief to discuss the complaints.
"It's my duty when people come to me to complain to pass that along. I hope they will be addressed," Woodwick said. "Chief Olson told me that these will be investigated, and that if there is a problem there, it will be dealt with."
Rice said he has received some complaints about the conduct of the department's younger officers, but does not believe they rise to inappropriate conduct.
"I know people have expressed concern about the zealousness of some of the younger officers," Rice said. "Most of them have been (about) rudeness.
Attitude has a lot to do with this. You've got to understand, these kids are young, they come out of the academy kind of gung-ho. You have to take that into consideration as well."