Late last year, members of the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, the quasi-judicial board that certifies police officers, debated how to appropriately punish Polson Police Officer Cory Anderson. He and Polson Police Chief Wade Nash, while off-duty and drinking, had called and allegedly intimidated a witness in a poaching investigation implicating several Lake County cops.
POST called it “strike two” against Anderson. The council had already suspended him once, in 2005, for alcohol-related domestic abuse. And he’d been involved in a few other drunken incidents over the course of several years while working for the Polson Police Department and Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Still, POST went easy on Anderson, letting him keep his badge as long as he underwent a chemical dependency evaluation, which he completed a couple months ago. Assistant Attorney General Sarah Hart, who serves as POST’s counsel, said during the December 2012 meeting, “My gut, for what it’s worth, is that this guy is going to toe the straight and narrow.”
It appears Anderson toed it about as far as Swanee’s Bar & Grill in Polson. That’s where strike three may have occurred late Saturday night, when Anderson allegedly assaulted someone. He wasn’t arrested, but on Monday Polson Police Chief Wade Nash placed Anderson on administrative leave while Nash’s department conducts an internal investigation and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office leads a criminal investigation (the Lake County Sheriff’s Office passed it off to avoid a conflict of interest).
“I’m handling this properly. It’s not being overlooked,” Nash says. “Do I like members of my department to have that type of reflection upon our community? Absolutely not, and it’s not going to be tolerated.”
Missoula County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Dominick, who’s leading the criminal investigation, declined to provide details of the incident. A Swanee’s Bar & Grill employee confirmed Anderson was there Saturday night but wasn’t aware an assault may have occurred.
Last year, POST brought complaints against Anderson, Nash and five other officers in Lake County law enforcement agencies, accusing the officers of a range of dishonorable and criminal acts, including poaching, perjury, nepotism, ethics violations, false claims of military combat, and witness tampering and intimidation. Only one officer, former Lake County Sgt. Dan Duryee, was stripped of his badge. Ronan Police Chief Dan Wadsworth was suspended for 15 years. Anderson and Nash were issued minor sanctions. POST dismissed the three other cases.