Friday, September 25, 2015

State Police releases file on ABC Enforcement chief

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 2:20 PM

The State Police today turned over to Russ Racop materials he'd sought under the Freedom of Information Act about Boyce Hamlet, the ABC Enforcement Division chief. Racop sued for release of the materials after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued an opinion that there was no compelling public interest in details about Racop's firing as a state police recruit 15 years ago. Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce said the materials should be released.

The file contains records of investigators who looked into allegations that Hamlet had changed answers on a test after returning to a testing room after a bathroom break. He told investigators he had not cheated on the test. Investigators didn't believe him. The file, however, also includes the result of a polygraph test that indicated he was truthful when he said he had not changed answers. He went on to a succession of law enforcement jobs, most recently as an investigator for the Faulkner County prosecuting attorney before getting the ABC job this year.

IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE: When this case first developed, I mentioned Racop had made frequent appearances in court in domestic disputes and linked to a newspaper article about a judge (my wife, since retired) ordering him not to contact a child's principal in the course of a divorce case. What I didn't know then — but just learned today — was that Racop's many legal actions included one that named my wife as a defendant along with his own wife. It said my wife was biased against him in his divorce suit, was "surfing the web" while he testified and had refused to enforce orders she had issued. He wanted her to recuse. That case was dismissed by Judge Mackie Pierce for Racop's failure to serve summonses. All news to me. People make a lot of complaints against judges, particularly losing parties in unhappy domestic controversies, and Ellen rarely brought her work home. Racop had risen to my attention previously only because he'd made the daily newspaper.

Racop's personal history — and there's a lot more than what I've noted — didn't seem relevant to me in the FOI matter. As I've indicated before, I thought he made a valid FOI request and the State Police was properly prepared to fulfill it until Rutledge intervened. It likely wouldn't have made news beyond Racop's blog about the ABC — which earned his ire by issuance of a permit to a store in his neighborhood — had Rutledge not tried to seal the record.

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