Nisswa: Police sergeant fired for working while under influence of alcohol

Brandon Rothwell's second such offense, according to investigative report

Brandon Rothwell

Nisswa’s police sergeant was let go in November for allegedly reporting to work in uniform and driving a city squad car while under the influence of alcohol, according to the investigative report, which also noted this was the second such incident in less than a year.

The Nisswa City Council fired Brandon Rothwell, an 18-year veteran of the Nisswa Police Department, Nov. 7. The investigative report became available after a deadline passed for Rothwell to file a grievance over his termination.

According to the investigative report, Rothwell reported to work at 3 a.m. Sept. 10, 2019, under the influence of alcohol, which violated several city policies. Later that morning, a preliminary breath test revealed a sample of .17.

Police Chief Craig Taylor said in the report that shortly after he arrived at the office at 7:50 a.m. that day, he saw Rothwell drive his squad car into the employee parking lot. Rothwell appeared more talkative than usual, seemed sleepy and his eyes were droopy, Taylor reported.

Taylor asked Rothwell if he had been drinking, and Rothwell replied that he had not. Taylor then asked Rothwell to take a preliminary breath test, which was a condition he had agreed to in January 2019 as a result of his last disciplinary action. Rothwell then admitted he had been drinking.


A preliminary breath test revealed the sample of .17, and Taylor collected Rothwell’s gun and badge. Rothwell was placed on paid administrative leave. After conducting the investigation, Taylor recommended that the council terminate Rothwell’s employment with the city.

“There are significant public safety concerns to consider due to the fact that a licensed peace officer reported to work under the influence, in full uniform, armed, and drove a Nisswa squad car,” Taylor wrote in the investigative report. “He was the only peace officer on duty and his conduct subjected himself and the community to great risk of harm. His actions were extremely egregious, and they placed both himself as well as officers from adjoining communities at great personal risk, should he have been required to request or serve as their backup.”

The report said that in December 2018, Rothwell reported to work under the influence with circumstances similar to the Sept. 10 incident. That was his first infraction, so he received one week of unpaid suspension.

Rothwell joined the Nisswa Police Department as an officer in January 2002 and was promoted to sergeant in April 2016.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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