A police detective in Sitka, Alaska, has filed a whistleblower complaint against the city’s police department, alleging it took retaliatory action against him for raising concerns about gun procurement and other dubious practices within the department.
According to Sitka’s KCAW News, trouble started for Sitka Police Department investigator Ryan Silva when he discovered the department had unlawfully purchased five fully automatic weapons in November 2017.
Det. Silva joined the Sitka Police Department in 2008 after serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was promoted to detective in 2011 and has served in that role since. He is also one of the police department’s firearms instructors.
According to KCAW, Det. Silva’s whistleblower lawsuit alleges the police department improperly purchased the military-grade automatic weapons in violation of the department’s procedures and out of the public’s view. The department’s Facebook page showed an officer from the police department’s recruitment video holding one of the automatic weapons. Det. Silva believed the automatic weapons to be extremely dangerous in the hands of an untrained individual.
Det. Silva claims in his whistleblower complaint that he expressed his concerns about the weapons and how the department obtained them to Police Chief Jeff Ankerfelt, who allegedly ignored him. Det. Silva then turned to municipal administrator Keith Brady with his concerns, which KCAW said “triggered a series of escalating retaliatory conduct by the chief and lieutenant in the department.”
Instead of investigating sex- and drug-related offenses as well as violent crimes, Det. Silva was demoted to patrol officer, a move that he claims was driven by additional allegations of wrongdoing within the department, including his refusal to abandon a possible child sex-abuse case with a possible connection to friends of the department’s lieutenant, KCAW reported.
Then, in July 2018, Det. Silva was placed on administrative leave and forced to give up his badge and gun – extreme measures he alleges were prompted by his support of his girlfriend and fellow police officer, who filed a sexual harassment complaint against the department with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Det. Silva filed his whistleblower lawsuit in Sitka Superior Court on Aug. 20. He remains on administrative leave, KCAW reported.