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Branstad wants independent investigation after trooper cited for speeding

The investigation is complete into the actions of an Iowa State Trooper cited for speeding as he transported Governor Terry Branstad, but the firing of the man who reported the speeding vehicle remains under review.

Trooper Steve Lawrence was cited Thursday, July 25, 2013 for driving 84 miles per hour in a 65 m.p.h. zone when he was driving the governor and lieutenant governor in Hamilton County, Iowa on April 26, 2013.  A second trooper who was also part of the governor’s detail that day was not cited or disciplined.

Iowa Department of Safety Commission Brian London said troopers must serve as an example to the public.

“The peace officers of the Department of Public Safety must lead by example and obey our traffic laws at all times.  We remain committed to serving Iowans professionally and acting in accordance with the law and Departmental policies,” London said.

Agent Larry Hedlund was fired from his position with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations.  His termination notice said Hedlund “communicated negative and disrespectful messages” about the division leadership to other employees and that he addressed the division director in a disrespectful tone.   Hedlund was also accused of driving his state government vehicle for a non-work-related purpose while he was scheduled to be on vacation April 25 and 26.

Related:  Branstad speaks out about trooper firing

In a July 25, 2013 letter, Governor Branstad asked former Iowa Supreme Court chief justice Louis Lavarato to independently review allegations that Hedlund, who said he worked for the division for 25 years, was fired July 17 in retaliation for reporting the speeding trooper.

“I am committed to transparency. Iowa law prevents all Iowans from having all of the facts and evidence surrounding Mr. Hedlund’s termination; therefore, I ask you to fully review the Internal Affairs investigation and provide the public with your own independent conclusion as to whether Mr. Hedlund’s termination was in any way related to retaliation for reporting my vehicle for speeding on April 26, 2013,” the letter said.

Branstad asked Lavarato for a full report when his investigation was complete.

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