Sebeka Mayor Says Misbehaving Police Chief Gets Fair Judicial Pr - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Sebeka Mayor Says Misbehaving Police Chief Gets Fair Judicial Process

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A Minnesota town is trying to figure out what to do with a misbehaving police chief amidst a string of allegations.

Sebeka, Minnesota's City Council suspended their police chief, 47-year-old Eric Swenson, for 30 days without pay Monday night.

That's following his conviction for disorderly conduct.

But, this isn't the first time the chief has run into trouble with the law.

This, also isn't his first suspension.

He was suspended for a week without pay in November, 2010, for a number of incidents that violated city code.

In May of this year, Swenson was charged for disorderly conduct at a Wadena County bar.

He pled guilty in court last month. A week and a half later, he was cited twice for domestic assault at his home.

That's when the City Council decided to take action.

"In small towns, there are people that like you and people that don't. You can't keep everybody happy," Lowell Stewart, Deputy Mayor of Sebeka, said.

There was once a petition to remove his police chief from office, but even a low popularity vote won't kick Eric Swenson out of the job.

"We cannot and will not act on allegations that are against him at this point, without him going through the legal system and being afforded those rights he has."

He says Swenson was put on paid suspension this month when word surfaced of his domestic assault in June.

"In America, you are innocent until proven guilty, so we could hardly take pay away from the individual without his day in court," Stewart said.

That suspension became unpaid when he was convicted in a separate case of disorderly conduct.

Since Swenson's suspension started, his office inside this building has been empty. He's the only paid full-time police officer in city limits.

"Actually, we have a deputy sheriff that lives probably four miles to the East. We have a deputy sheriff that lives 5 blocks to the North, so we do have officers in our immediate vicinity," Stewart said.

Stewart says it's going to take a judicial process to determine how long he'll be out of the job.

"What it comes down to is if a person does their job correctly, does it by the book and equally administers what he's supposed to as far as law enforcement, what's right for one should be right for all. And, that's all we ask, that's all I ask as a councilman," he said.

Valley News Live spoke with Swenson off camera. He says he's not being represented fairly by the media, but declined to make a statement on camera with us.

The next Sebeka City Council meeting is set for July 30th, that's when the mayor says they'll release their evaluation of Swenson's behavior.

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