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City fires police officer Gartner

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After meeting in closed session for 20 minutes Tuesday, Sept. 2, the Pequot Lakes City Council reopened the meeting and fired police officer Josh Gartner.

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“I move that Josh Gartner be discharged for reasons stated in and as provided in the letter from police chief Eric Klang to Gartner dated Aug 26, 2014, and that the city clerk submit notification to Gartner and the union consistent with the motion,” said Mayor Nancy Adams.

The vote was unanimous.

Klang and city staff said they couldn’t say any more at this time and couldn’t release the letter cited. Klang said Gartner and the police officer’s union could appeal the council’s decision.

The council met in closed session regarding “internal affairs data relating to allegations of law enforcement personnel misconduct.”

Klang said Friday, Aug. 29, that three internal complaints have been filed against Gartner by administration - two complaints signed by Sgt. Chad Turcotte and one by Klang.

“Complaints were filed against Gartner, investigated, and the city has come to the conclusion to discharge him,” Klang said Tuesday.

Klang said Gartner has been on paid administrative leave since June 26. He said he couldn’t comment any further on the reasons for placing Gartner on leave.

This isn’t the first time Gartner has run into trouble with the department. In March 2013, the Pequot Lakes City Council denied a grievance brought by Gartner after meeting in closed session to give preliminary consideration to allegations against Gartner, acknowledging a complaint existed against him and was sustained.

Later in 2013, a state arbitrator ruled that 10 days of a 15-day suspension for Gartner were warranted, and Gartner was paid for the other five days.

The state arbitration between the officers’ union and the city of Pequot Lakes was held to determine whether the city had just cause to place Gartner on the 15-day suspension. This came after several complaints against Gartner were referred to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department for an investigation, and after Klang conducted an internal investigation and determined a 15-day suspension was warranted.

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