CRYSTAL, Minn. - For nearly three decades Rob Erkenbrack has worked to serve and protect residents of Crystal.
That all ended on August 27 when the longtime cop was terminated, an action Erkenbrack says was unwarranted. It was the latest chapter in a battle with the city that began when another officer, Alan Watt, was disciplined for what Erkenbrack calls a minor policy violation. Because he was a sergeant and that officer's supervisor, Erkenbrack says he was investigated and eventually cleared.
Despite that, he was placed on administrative leave in March.
Erkenbrack believes that the actions against him are more likely due to his history of being outspoken about problems in the Crystal department and his issues with Chief Stephanie Revering.
In August dozens of citizens showed up to rally at a city council meeting in support of the officers. They wanted to know the reason that Erkenbrack and Watt had been placed on leave.
But council members themselves admitted they didn't know much because the city would not release data to them, saying the matter falls under data privacy laws.
"I've signed an affidavit to the city council stating that they have access to all my information, my personnel file, this whole situation, but the city manager has yet to release that information to the city council."
Crystal City Manager Anne Norris released a written statement on Erkenbrack's case Wednesday. It reads "The city of Crystal's investigations of Officer Erkenbrack have been completed. We cannot say what the final action is because the matter is private under Minnesota Statute 13.43 regarding personnel data."
"The law is designed so that the occurrence and substance of discipline and the steps in the process of making it final are not public until final disposition," Norris continues, "in order to protect the employee. All police officers are members of a union and have a collective bargaining agreement with a grievance procedure."
Last Tuesday Erkenbrack says he was called in and terminated for talking to other officers about his work status. Though he could walk away now with his full retirement, Erkenbrack says he plans to take the situation to arbitration and fight for his job.
"I want to go back and I want to finish my career properly, be able to say goodbye to the people I worked with, the citizens, and do the right thing and walk out with my head held high."
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