IOWA CITY — A former Iowa Law Enforcement Academy instructor was barred from Camp Dodge after academy officials claimed she was an armed threat, but the Iowa National Guard later lifted the order after finding no evidence to support that assertion, records and interviews show.
A December 2012 Iowa National Guard memo warned Camp Dodge security personnel that Nancy Brady had made threats toward academy employees and “should be considered armed when approached.” Brady says she was outraged to learn of the memo months later, insisting she has never owned a gun or threatened anyone.
The National Guard rescinded the ban June 18, after academy officials offered no justification to continue keeping Brady off the Johnston military base where the academy is housed, Lt. Col. Mike Kuehn said.
The academy’s treatment of Brady, who trained dispatchers for 14 years, has come under criticism in recent weeks, with critics questioning whether her career was destroyed for blowing the whistle on inappropriate behavior. The claim that she was an armed threat will raise more questions.
“They lied to the National Guard and made up that I had a weapon,” Brady said Thursday. “I was stunned.”
Brady, 57, says she was suspended in December and fired in January after facing months of retaliation for filing a complaint against assistant academy director Michael Quinn. Brady’s complaint prompted an investigation that found Quinn made repeated inappropriate sexual remarks to female students and co-workers and once threatened Brady by telling her, during a taped conversation, that he would “slit your throat” if she spent too much time talking to another employee.
Academy director Arlen Ciechanowski, who was promoted by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011, admonished Quinn but decided to keep him as the academy’s No. 2 official. The Associated Press later reported that Quinn resigned from his previous job in 1999, after being accused of sexually harassing and bullying a female subordinate.
Meanwhile, Ciechanowski fired Brady after accusing her of making a threatening remark about him to another employee. Brady says her comment about Ciechanowski was made in frustration and taken out of context. Ciechanowski and Quinn deny retaliation.
Ciechanowski said Thursday that Brady remains banned from the academy itself. He said the restriction is appropriate based on information the academy has, but he declined to elaborate.
The board president of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the board chair of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence last week issued a statement saying they didn’t understand why Quinn was warned for his behavior while Brady was fired. So far, Branstad has been silent on their call to review leadership standards to ensure that the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy “is that place of excellence” where female cadets and employees thrive.
The academy trains and certifies Iowa police officers, jailers and dispatchers, offering a basic training program for recruits and numerous other classes. Brady managed a training program for emergency communications centers from her hiring in 1998 until her firing.
Kuehn, a National Guard lawyer, said guard officials relied on claims by academy leaders in banning Brady but that he had no opinion on whether their request was legitimate. The ban memo said that past incidents showed Brady “may become aggressive in nature toward personnel living or working” at Camp Dodge.
Brady said she learned of the order when she went to sign pension papers in June. She said academy officials may have falsely assumed she had a gun because she once obtained a firearms permit so she could train to become a reserve officer, a process she never completed. She said she hasn’t touched a weapon since January 2011.
She asked Guard officials to lift the ban, saying that she wanted to attend summer concerts on the property.
The National Guard launched a review, asking Ciechanowski to provide “a good reason” that Brady should be banned and he failed to do so, Kuehn said.
“I think my next question was, ‘Do you have enough for a protective order?’ The answer was no,” Kuehn said. “We said, ‘Well, based on that, we don’t see any reason to bar her,’ so we lifted the bar.”