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Group calls penalty for Brooklyn Park cop too light

  • Article by: Jim Adams
  • Star Tribune
  • July 15, 2013 - 9:42 PM

 

A Brooklyn Park police officer received a five-day unpaid suspension last month after an investigation of his activities, most while he was a member of the Metro Gang Strike Force, which was disbanded in 2009.

Sgt. Greg Burstad, who has returned to duty, had been on a paid leave since September while the Brooklyn Park department conducted the investigation, which stemmed from claims made in the settlement of a lawsuit against the Strike Force. They involved allegations from 2007-08.

The activist group Communities United Against Police Brutality, which submitted about 30 complaints against Burstad, held a news conference Monday in Brooklyn Park to protest his suspension as too light and to call for Chief Michael Davis’ resignation.

Three Brooklyn Park police officials spent nine months reviewing the complaints and found evidence to support eight allegations of policy violations, for which Burstad was suspended June 1-5, said Deputy Chief Jeff Ankerfelt. The policies involved conduct, use of physical force, filing reports and use of search warrants, Ankerfelt said. He said he couldn’t release details until the city’s attorney reviewed what data is public information.

He said Burstad, who resumed work the next day, is a decorated officer with the department since 2001, and had no previous disciplinary history.

Communities United President Michelle Gross said a week’s suspension “was nowhere near adequate.” She said that Chief Davis should resign and that her group has filed a complaint about him with city officials and the Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Board.

Burstad, 38, couldn’t be reached for comment. Davis was out of town, but Ankerfelt said asking for his resignation “was unreasonable and unresponsible. … To suggest he didn’t take this seriously is inaccurate.”

He noted that the department interviewed all 30 complainants with Gross and attorney Phil Johnson present. He said investigators collected both the complainants’ version of events and all evidence available from the Strike Force civil case.

Ankerfelt said Burstad has done a great job of supervising the city’s community response unit. A department release said: “Several years have passed since Burstad was involved in the failures outlined in this investigation. He has since helped our department develop gang reduction and youth violence prevention efforts that have been progressive, well managed and professionally competent.”

Burstad has never been charged but was cited in the settlement of the civil class action against Strike Force officers. The state Public Safety Department disbanded the Strike Force in May 2009.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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