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Crosby police officer gets job back through arbitration ruling

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Crosby police officer gets job back through arbitration ruling
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

A Crosby police officer, placed on paid administrative leave for alleged officer misconduct in August of 2012 and then terminated, will get his job back.

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Sgt. Jesse Smith will be reinstated as a result of an arbitration ruling through the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, said Crosby Police Chief Kim Coughlin.

The lawsuit was between Teamsters Local 346, the union representative of Crosby Police Department sergeants and patrol officers, and the city of Crosby and Coughlin.

At issue was whether Coughlin/City of Crosby had the right to demote the Smith from sergeant to police officer; and whether Coughlin/city had the right to terminate Smith. Smith’s termination was confirmed by the Crosby City Council on Jan. 28, 2013.

Arbitrator John Remington found Coughlin “had just cause to demote the ‘grievant’ from his position as a police sergeant.” However, “evidence was insufficient to support the decision to terminate the ‘grievant’ as a police officer.” The arbitrator also found that Coughlin did not have “just cause to discharge him from employment.”

With the arbitration award, the termination will be excluded from Smith’s personnel file.

In a statement, Coughlin said: “The arbitrator decided that Jesse Smith should not be in a law enforcement leadership position for the city of Crosby’s Police Department, and I agree. The investigation was fair, unbiased and thorough. I am disappointed in the overall decision not to terminate, but with that said, I do respect and will continue to respect the process.

“The people of this community deserve a police department that serves with high ethical standards, honesty, courage and compassion. As police chief, I have not and will not condone untruthfulness, insubordination, failure to comply with chain of command or any other Crosby Police Department policy and procedure violations. Nor will I condone anything less than the highest in police integrity and morals. From here, we are going to continue to move forward with these high standards of policing. We all took an oath to do so.”

Patrick Kelly and Martin Norder of Kelly & Lemmons Attorneys at Law in St. Paul represented the officer/union. They received word on the arbitration award Saturday.

“The grievant is pleased (with the outcome) and excited to get back to serve the citizens of Crosby,” Kelly said Monday. “The award shows the grievant’s dedication and his past record is superior ... He dedicated his life to the city and it is important to him.”

Kelly wouldn’t state who the grievant is, but said the officer was a sergeant. The police department has only one sergeant, which was Smith.

Coughlin said at this time, the police department does not have a return date for Smith. When Smith does return to the police department his title will be officer.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER, staff writer, may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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Jennifer Stockinger
(218) 855-5851
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