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Sebeka council calls closed meeting to discuss chief accused of DWI

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The Sebeka City Council will hold a closed meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss the town’s police chief, who was cited for driving while intoxicated last week.

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A New York Mills police officer stopped Eric Swenson, 48, just outside of city limits about 11 p.m. Feb. 26. As of Wednesday afternoon, Otter Tail County court administration hadn’t scheduled a court date for the DWI, because it had yet to receive the citation from the city, which does not file electronically. The police report won’t be made public until Swenson appears in Otter Tail County District Court, said Heather Brandborg, assistant Otter Tail County attorney.

If Swenson received the seven-day grace period typically grant to those cited for DWI, his license would be suspended Wednesday.

The chief continued to patrol the town in the days following the DWI citation. But Swenson did not show up for work Wednesday, said Sally Sandberg, Sebeka city clerk.

She said she had no information about when or whether he would return to the job. Although Swenson is Sebeka’s only full-time officer, the town employs a couple regular part-timers and a few others who fill in as needed.

“It’s not like we don’t have law enforcement,” Sandberg said.

A call to the Sebeka Police Department’s non-emergency line Wednesday redirected to the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office, as it always does when no one is in the office.

Sheriff Mike Carr said the county already frequently responds to calls in Sebeka. “Nothing will change on our end,” he said. “We’ve been down this road before.”

Swenson was suspended for 30 days last summer following a fifth degree domestic assault misdemeanor. That case is ongoing, with a pretrial scheduling conference slated for Monday.

Earlier last year, Swenson pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor prompted by “drunk and belligerent” behavior at The Outpost, a bar in Huntersville, according to the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office. The judge fined Swenson and sentenced him to 30 days in jail stayed for one year of probation, which required him to stay out of trouble.

In addition to last year’s 30-day suspension, the council suspended Swenson for a week without pay in 2010 and ordered him to complete a police ethics course after several incidents that year, including a report he responded to a call with alcohol on his breath.

In October of that same year, he made national news after reporting SWAT equipment had gone missing from his home in Otter Tail County. A sheriff’s office report stated Swenson found the items - loaded magazines for both a Glock 9mm handgun and an AR-15 rifle, night vision goggles and stun grenades - a week later in a backyard fort built by his then 9-year-old son. Later that month, Swenson told the Pioneer Journal that the items were actually found inside the house.

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