Internal police investigation will follow criminal case

By Janice Gregorson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson said that once he receives reports on the allegations against officer Vanessa Mason, he will begin an internal investigation to determine whether department policies were violated.

When it’s done, Peterson will make a recommendation regarding discipline against Mason, who is on administrative leave.

If termination is recommended, the matter goes to the Police Civil Service Commission, which can approve, disapprove or modify the recommendation. If there is disciplinary action, Mason would have the right to appeal through the police union. The appeal could go to arbitration or even to court.


On Thursday, Mason, a 4 1/2-year patrol officer, was charged with three felonies and two gross misdemeanors for allegedly misusing her position to tip off drug dealers to narcotics investigations and that she picked up and delivered drugs.

To avoid a conflict of interest, the case was investigated by agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and reviewed by Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster. Peterson said he has not seen the investigative reports.

"There are administrative procedures that can interfere with that (the criminal investigation and prosecution), and, obviously, we won’t take any steps that will compromise it," he said.

Mason’s attorney, Fred Bruno of Minneapolis, said Mason denies the allegations and said they’re based "completely on the uncorroborated word of criminals looking for favors."

He called the last two felony charges on the complaint "backloaded felony charges added as a Hail Mary, completely unfounded."

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