Police report: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Major admitted to drinking before squad SUV found in ditch outside bar
SPOONER, Wis. (FOX 9) - A Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Major admitted to drinking before putting his Hennepin County-issued SUV in a driveway ditch outside a bar in Spooner, Wis. Saturday, according to a police report.
The vehicle belonged to one of Hennepin County’s top commanders, a law enforcement veteran by the name of Bob Staupe. Staupe wasn't arrested following the crash and there were no reported injuries in the incident.
A police report obtained by FOX 9 Thursday showed that the vehicle had a bottle of vodka, a Hennepin County jacket and a gun locker inside among other items.
The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office first located the car in the ditch just before 10 p.m. Saturday night. The black, unmarked SUV was in a ditch outside Northwinds Bar.
The police report says, “The vehicle appeared to come out of the driveway and went off the opposite side of the road.”
The responding deputy entered the bar and spoke with the owner, who eventually told him the driver of the car was a cop. Shortly after the officer left the bar, a car with two women and one man left the driveway. The car returned a few minutes later with just one female driver.
Another deputy and a trooper arrived on scene and found the vodka and a purse inside the vehicle. They found a driver’s license for Staupe’s wife, Susan Staupe inside. Dispatch then learned the Staupes had property near the bar.
The deputy called a tow truck, which arrived and began taking the car out of the ditch. Another tow truck arrived after being called by the Staupes.
The tow truck company provided a phone number for the Staupes, which the deputy called. He spoke with a female who said her husband worked for Hennepin County during the call that was at times “argumentative,” according to the police report.
Susan Staupe also noted that the bar owner’s wife drove her and her husband home in the same car the deputy saw come and go earlier.
The next morning, Staupe called Burnett County to ask about getting the car out of impound. During the call, Staupe admitted to drinking before putting the car in the ditch but said he did not drink that much.
Since the incident, Staupe has resigned from his post.
Wednesday evening, FOX 9 sources confirmed Staupe has voluntarily taken a demotion as an internal investigation is underway to determine how and why his vehicle was found unoccupied so far away.
Staupe joined the command ranks of new Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson earlier this year. His online bio with the office says Staupe was in charge of enforcement, communications, and volunteer services.
Staupe is the subject of an internal sheriff’s office probe into the circumstances surrounding his apparently abandoned county-issued squad found over the weekend. Online searches indicate Staupe owns property near where the SUV was found.
FOX 9 has learned that on Wednesday Staupe submitted a letter of voluntary demotion from his appointed position of major and returned to his classified rank of sheriff’s lieutenant in the professional standards division.
It was also announced that now-Lieutenant Staupe is on personal leave from the agency.
As the investigation is underway, it's still unclear why the major was driving his county-issued SUV so far from Hennepin County and if he violated policies connected to his take-home vehicle.
Sheriff Hutchinson released the following statement Thursday morning:
I am aware of the incident that occurred in Burnett County, Wisconsin involving one of our vehicles. We have launched an internal employment investigation into this incident. Because the matter is under investigation, I hope people understand that I cannot comment any further.
This story was reported from Eden Prairie, Minn.