Investigator hired to review fatal police pursuit

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 11/18/97.

Following a closed session during their regular Wednesday meeting, the Paynesville City Council approved hiring Orvid (Butch) LaBerge, Minnetonka, to do an internal investigation of the police pursuit.

The investigation results from a fatal accident which occurred on Oct. 15 when a Paynesville Police Officer, Joe Schmitz, was pursuing John Carl Anderson, Paynesville, who failed to stop for a traffic violation.

ďThe Paynesville Police Departmentís pursuit policy requires an automatic review of all police pursuits. The council determined it would be best to turn over the review of the Oct. 15 pursuit to someone who had no prior affiliations with the Paynesville Police Department or its officers,Ē Bill Spooner, city attorney, said.

ďLaBerge has worked with internal investigations for the Metropolitan Council dealing with employee safety and security issues,Ē Spooner added.

LaBerge has worked as an internal investigator and police management instructor since his retirement from law enforcement in 1995. He is a retired Chief Deputy Sheriff of Hennepin County where he served 12 years, former Hopkins Police Chief and past president of the Minnesota Police Chief Association.

In checking with the Stearns County Attorneyís office, Mary Younkers, assistant county attorney, reported the investigation into possible criminal charges, in regard to the incident, is still pending.

In other council business:
ēThe council approved an insurance settlement with Allied Adjusters for $20,078 for the squad car and equipment which was wrecked in the accident. Of the total replacement costs, only $8,000 is not covered by insurance.

A 1997 Crown Victoria has been purchased to replace the wrecked squad car. The council approved purchasing a new radar system for $1,765; a light bar for $795 and a radio and siren for $2,561 for the new squad car which is covered by the insurance settlement.

ēThe council reviewed the 1998 street project with Peter Carlson, engineer. Carlson wanted to double check the approved street widths with the council. Stearns Avenue will remain at its present width, 46 feet; Washburne Avenue will be widened to 40 feet; Main Street, 38 feet; Wendell Street, 38 feet; and Augusta Avenue, 52 feet.

ēThe council took no action of the Alice Schreifels lawsuit, claiming age discrimination. She was employed with the city in 1994 for a few months.

ēThe council approved the public works committee irrigation proposal to bury above ground pipes and advised Ron Mergen, public works director, to secure bids on the project.

ēThe council approved purchasing a used telephone system from Lakedale Telephone Company for $9,765. Lakedale is presently using the system and is upgrading their own. The system is three years old.

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