Pioneer Firefighter Demanded Investigation into Chief Matthews Over Claims of Illegal Spying

At the March 14, 2019 board meeting for the Pioneer Fire Protection District, firefighter Kane Gardiner spoke of suspected illegal behavior at the hands of Chief Mark Matthews.

In his speech Gardiner claims that “all personnel” in the fire district suspect Matthews of recording conversations among staff members since the very beginning of Matthews’ tenure. “There have been too many coincidences of conversations between staff, and within days a new policy or department directive based on these conversations.” He goes on to claim that an electronic device has been discovered.

Gardiner tells the board that a Panasonic Home Hawk device was recently discovered in Matthews’ office. This device is capable of recording both audio and video and can be triggered by motion. Gardiner then demands the board conduct an immediate investigation and background check.

“We, all of us here, feel that the public should be made aware of the Chiefs actions. We feel that, at a
minimum, a thorough background investigation should be performed on the current Chief as we know
that this was not done pre-hire,” Gardiner concludes.

In the following months there is no indication in the minutes that the board of directors follows up on Gardiner’s claims. On August 9, 2019 a single-line note appears in the board minutes: “Kane Gardiner has resigned.”

You can read Gardiner’s enter statement to the board below.

I want to make the Pioneer Fire Protection Board of Directors and the public aware of the fact that the

current fire chief, Mark Matthews, has, and is currently, breaking California and Federal Laws on a

regular basis. Since the first month of the Chiefs tenure it was suspected by all personnel that the Chief

was recording/listening to conversations among staff members and during private phone calls. There

have been too many coincidences of conversations between staff, and within days a new policy or

department directive based on these conversations. Recently the device, a Panasonic Home Hawk,

which records both audio and video, based off motion, was discovered in the Chiefs office and is

currently still sitting on the window sill of his office. While it is not illegal to have this, it is illegal to

record without consent of all being recorded. This is a violation of the California Penal Code 832. In

discussion with a lawyer, it was brought to my attention, that, because he has recorded and listened to

private phone conversations, he is also breaking federal laws related to the Wiretapping and

Eavesdropping Act. I am here tonight to request the Board remove Mark Matthews from the position of

Fire Chiefof Pioneer Fire Protection District. Regardless of the Board’s decision, this information will be

presented to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, the Department of Labor, and to the media. As

we, all of us here, feel that the public should be made aware of the Chiefs actions. We feel, that, at a

minimum, a thorough background investigation should be performed on the current Chief as we know

that this was not done pre-hire, and that this information be presented to the investigator. These illegal

acts have created a liability to the department and can result in a lawsuit/s against the Chief and the

Board, should no action be taken.

Pioneer Firefighter Kane Gardiner, March 14 2019

One thought on “Pioneer Firefighter Demanded Investigation into Chief Matthews Over Claims of Illegal Spying

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