JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A prominent non-profit that aids whistleblowers is helping Kateri “Kat” Dahl in building two U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower cases the former federal attorney filed regarding her firing and other alleged actions by the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD).
Whistleblower Aid founder and chief disclosure officer John Tye — a former government whistleblower himself — told News Channel 11 Friday he helped Dahl make “lawful disclosures” to the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General and the Public Integrity Section of its Civil Rights Division.
“Kat is a brave whistleblower who’s followed the laws and she’s entitled to lawful whistleblower status under United States federal law and also Tennessee state law,” Tye said.
Whistleblower Aid has been active in numerous high-profile cases since its founding in 2017, including aiding Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower. Its services are free and it aids both government and corporate whistleblowers.
Its work with Dahl is separate from the federal lawsuit that Dahl filed against Johnson City Police Chief Karl Turner, three police officers and the City of Johnson City.
Tye said additional information from people who have knowledge about the case revolving around a suspected drug dealer and serial rapist named as “Robert Voe” in the lawsuit can be very helpful to the DOJ complaints.
Whistleblower Aid offers secure apps that allow people to send information through encrypted channels.
“If you know something about the events in Johnson City, feel free to reach out and contact me,” Tye, who is a lawyer, said.
“I can provide free, confidential, privileged legal advice and we have secure ways to contact us using the Signal app, which is an encrypted phone app.”
Instructions for the app are at whistlebloweraid.org/contact, Tye said.
“I will be reviewing everything that comes in and I can get in touch with you and give you legal advice on how your knowledge can be best put to use in a way that protects you to get justice and accountability in this case,” he said.
Tye, who was internet freedom section chief for the U.S. Department of State from 2011-2014, reported the National Security Agency’s use of a loophole to store Americans’ emails, phone calls and online communications without a warrant or suspicion.
He said the evidence so far leads him to believe the Johnson City case “absolutely” has additional relevant and useful information that his group hasn’t received yet.
“Since I’ve been involved in this case it seems like every day some very unexpected new thing seems to happen,” Tye said. “There’s clearly a lot going on here and I’m sure there’s people (in Johnson City) who know about things that would be useful to the Department of Justice.”
Tye cautioned that if people have important information that could support the allegations of potential corruption by police in the “Robert Voe” case, it can be more valuable to his organization and to the DOJ if they avoid sharing it publicly.
“The earlier the investigators and the prosecutors learn about that evidence, the better and the more control they have over when that evidence is disclosed publicly, the better,” Tye said.
He said whistleblowing is an important part of a well-functioning democracy. In the case of law enforcement, he said local and national officials both have important roles in enforcing laws.
“That’s really important in cases like this when there’s serious questions about one side of the equation.”
Tye said he shifted to the work he does now because he wants people to be able to uphold the group’s motto of reporting government and corporate law breaking “without breaking the law.”
“Every day that goes by there are more and more ways that governments and corporations are trying to hide abuses and misconduct,” he said. “The role of lawful whistleblowers coming forward courageously, in need often of protection against retaliation, that need is growing every day and we’re here to support them.”
Tye said whistleblowers play a meaningful role in holding society accountable.
“If they’re protected, if they are able to get out their disclosures in a lawful way that does not break any rules or any laws, get meaningful media reporting and get law enforcement agencies engaged, they can make a difference.”