Police Chief under scrutiny for promo video with local MMA fighter

Friday, January 15, 2010

A YouTube video featuring the Madrid police chief is raising questions about whether it went too far.

Chief Rick Tasler is also a mixed martial arts fighter and appears in a video shot by another MMA fighter to promote an upcoming fight.

The video shows Tasler spending time on the job with MMA fighter Joe Brammer. Most of it was shot in Tasler’s patrol car as the men discuss fights and work.

“Of course there’s girls out there, the badge bunnies is what we call them in the police officers,” Tasler said on the video.

After riding in the squad car, Tasler shows Brammer how to shoot a firearm.

“This is how they shoot in the hood,” Brammer said on the video.

“I was concerned. It looks like it was out in the open,” said retired Iowa State Patrol Captain Marlo Fieck. “This time of year, there could be deer hunters or almost anybody out there.”

Fieck teaches the required gun safety class for getting a permit. He said he was also concerned about another video clip that shows Tasler demonstrating using mixed martial arts in his job.

“Once again, I’m going straight to my firearm,” Tasler said.

“I’m not comfortable with people pointing a firearm at someone, even if we know it’s empty,” said Fieck. “It’s a bad habit to get into.”

“This would not be how we train officers,” said Iowa Law Enforcement Academy director Penny Westfall. “The concern sent to the academy was that it was careless use of the weapons.”

She said the organization has received complaints about the video and is looking into them.

“We instruct (officers) to assume you’re always being videotaped,” she said. “Recognize the badge is a symbol of trust and don’t do anything you don’t want to be seen on the front page of the paper or on TV.”

Chief Tasler refused an on-camera interview, but over the phone he told NewsChannel8 he did nothing wrong. He said the weapons in the video didn’t belong to the city.

The mayor of Madrid sent a response by e-mail after being contacted by NewsChannel8. “Thank you for bringing this video to my attention. Since I have not had an opportunity to discuss this video with the individuals involved, I have no comment at this time.

The video in question has also been removed from YouTube as of Thursday night.

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