Cold Spring City Council meeting packed over police chief hiring - KMSP-TV

Cold Spring City Council meeting packed over police chief 'witch hunt'

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COLD SPRING, Minn. (KMSP) -

The city of Cold Spring offered Eric Johnson the opportunity to be the police chief in the small town earlier this year, but a possible error on his resume has leaders rethinking the decision.

On Monday, the City Council held a special meeting to discuss the matter, and it didn't take long for things to get heated.

Local leaders are scrambling to pick up the pieces of process some described as a "witch hunt."

"The expression I'm hearing in the community is: 'The wheels came off the wagon,'" City Councilman Bob Thelen said. "Let's use that expression. How did the wheels come off? Why did they come off?"

Those were the answers many residents came to hear because Johnson was offered the job. In fact, he even got an e-mail welcoming him aboard and informing him that he could resign his longtime law enforcement position in Minneota, Minn.

Shortly thereafter, that offer was rescinded -- but his attorney says he still hopes to fill the role.

"He would like to continue to be police chief here, "Betsey Lund said. "He likes the community, wants to work in the community."

Johnson did not attend the Monday night meeting, but Fox 9 News learned a complaint was filed against him shortly after he accepted the city's offer.

Details of that complaint are sealed, but there have been some reports that the offer was retracted because Johnson allowed his CPR and first responder certifications lapse. Others contend it was simply because he is an outsider to the small community.

By the end of Monday night, Johnson's status remained uncertain -- and the man who helped axe his appointment refused to comment.

"This is not good for the community -- another black eye," Cold Spring Mayor Doug Schmitz said.

Schmitz admitted he does not yet know what may come next. Johnson's attorney warns her client may consider legal action if the job offer falls through. In the interim, he is working a second job after leaving his post in Minneota in order to provide for his family.

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