Westering steps down in Rolfe
By JOE SUTTER
ROLFE – Following months of controversy – and a lawsuit against his employers – Rolfe’s lone police officer has resigned.
Former Police Chief Don Westering submitted his resignation on Dec. 27, 2012 – five months after the City Council voted 4-1 recommending that he be removed from office, and 14 days after the council voted unanimously to eliminate its police force.
Despite the council vote, Rolfe Mayor Mike Hayek chose not to fire Westering. That means he could legally have kept his job until his term expired in December 2013.
On Dec. 17, Westering filed a civil suit against the city of Rolfe, council members Joni Ham, Lana Pratt and Al Kuchenreuther, and Rolfe residents Dan Allen and Mary Allen.
The suit alleges that the defendants raised false and defamatory statements against Westering which caused irreparable injury to his reputation and affected his ability to work as a police officer.
It alleges these statements were intended to make the conditions of Westering’s employment so intolerable that no reasonable person would stay in the position.
It also alleges that the defendants violated the Iowa Open Meetings Law by discussing Westering’s performance in open meetings.
The suit is ongoing. The defendants’ legal council could not be reached as of press time.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the City Council worked on some of the logistics caused by the elimination of the Police Department.
The council agreed to get more information about installing cameras in the town so the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department could monitor things.
This idea is working well in Palmer, said Hayek.
The city will also investigate whether its eight current security cameras can be linked to the sheriff’s office. There are three cameras in front of the community building and one on the north side, as well as four inside the building.
The council is working on selling the Police Department’s accessories, which include a police car, shotgun, AR-15 assault rifle and rifle accessories such as clips and red-dot sight.
Anyone can bid on the gun as long as they have a concealed carry permit, Kuchenreuther said.
“If they do not, they have to go through the paperwork like anyone else,” he said. “Just like if they went to a dealer.”
Bids must be submitted by Feb. 8, and the council will consider the bids at the Feb. 11 meeting.
The city discussed what to do for animal control, which was previously handled by the police officer.
Currently, Hayek has been in charge of the animal traps.
“I don’t feel that should be his job,” said Councilman Joe Ramaekers.
One idea was to rent out the traps and let people be responsible for the animals they catch.
“We’ll have to state how they dispose of them, though. I’m not for someone trapping a cat and start shooting it,” said Hayek. “We don’t want the Wild Wild West in the town of Rolfe.”
The council agreed more discussion was needed at a later date.