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Six applicants vie for Minatare police openings
May 21, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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The application deadline has closed and Minatare has received credentials from at least six interested persons for the position of police chief, as well as full and part-time officers.

Council member Marcella Kreiling said they have received some quality applications and plan to review the credentials later this week.
After the resignations of Police Chief Robert Regester and Officer Jim Lawson last month, Minatare is currently operating with two part-time officers, Michael Youngquist and Matt Rockwell. Youngquist was recently reinstated after being suspended by the state earlier this year. Regester and Lawson had also been suspended because of certification issues and firearm training, although Lawson later was reinstated.

Because Minatare doesn’t have a police chief, the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, as acting chief, will conduct background checks on applicants the city considers hiring. Part of that check is to ensure applicants are certified to serve as law enforcement officers and have other necessary credentials in place.

Council members also heard from Wayne Kilmer, chairman of the planning commission, on the recently activated Neighborhood Watch program. “We’re trying to recruit some active community policing,” he said. “These people aren’t police officers and have no authority but we do have an operating procedure in place for watching the community.”

The program has developed a watch list comprised of business owners and residents that agreed to be checked out by watch members, who report to the owners if anything is suspicious.
“Since I’ve been doing patrols, I’ve found several doors unlocked and cars with keys in them,” Kilmer said. “The program is making some difference as we’re getting organized.

The group has also registered with the National Sheriff’s Association and Kilmer has consulted with the county sheriff.
“We want to check on houses this summer but we have to have permission,” he told council members. “We can’t go onto their property unless they’ve asked us to. There is a need for the service we provide.”

Minatare City Attorney Audrey Elliott also reported she has received a complaint against the city from the Nebraska State Attorney General. Filing the complaint was former mayor Alfred Pieper, who was removed from office in a special election held last January.
“The former mayor in his complaint said he had asked to go into executive session to hear complaints about his leadership,” Elliott said. “He said it was denied but when I looked through my notes, he never asked for an executive session.”

Pieper claimed that complaints about his leadership as mayor being made public had damaged his reputation in the community.
However, Pieper was an elected official and may not have as much protection under the executive session statute as an employee does.
Council member Bob Baldwin said Pieper had never asked for a closed session, saying he wanted the complaints against him aired in a meeting that was open to the public.

Council gave Elliott authority to address the complaint and provide any needed documentation to the Attorney General.
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