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Erik Burgess, Published December 12 2012

VIDEO: Dilworth police chief says he won't resign

DILWORTH – The police chief here says he won’t resign and lashed out against his officers who had issued a “vote of no confidence” against him Monday night.

Officers here attempted to present a letter to the City Council on Monday, asking Josh Ebert to resign and detailing several complaints against the chief, who started the job March 1.

“It is obvious from what has happened in the past few days that training on ethics and personal and professional relationships should be higher on the training list,” Ebert said in a statement to the media Wednesday.

The complaints lodged against Ebert included concerns about scheduling, hiring, budgeting, leadership, accountability and ethics, according to the letter that was presented to the mayor by Officer Brad Browning.

The letter contained six signatures, and the city of Dilworth employs six full-time police officers and two part-time officers.

In his response, Ebert called the complaints “vague,” and said the officers did not follow proper departmental procedures and “disobeyed” Mayor Chad Olson when they attempted to present the letter to the council on Monday. Olson told the officers that a City Council meeting was not the appropriate place to lodge such a complaint.

“No formal charges or complaints have been presented to me, and I have not done anything that would cause me to expect any,” Ebert said, adding that the mayor and council support him.

Ebert said when he started as police chief, he realized his officers did not meet training standards set forth by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, and he was working to correct that.

He also said with only six full-time officers, schedules can be stretched thin, especially because the city likes to keep overtime low.

“Not everyone can be made happy,” Ebert said, adding that he recently hired two part-time officers to help alleviate scheduling concerns.

On Monday, Browning responded to the suggestion by city officials that the complaints may be motivated by officers who also applied for the police chief position internally and are not giving Ebert a fair shot.

The letter states: “The applicants officially and publically rescind any applications or expressed interest in the position.”

Ebert said he will be working with the officers “in a constructive and appropriate manner” to deal with their concerns, and after giving his statement to the media, he deferred all questions to city officials.

“I can assure the community that our level of police service has not been compromised in any way,” he said.

Before taking the job here, Ebert spent eight years as police chief in Pine River, a town of about 950 people roughly 30 miles north of Brainerd.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518