Sebeka Police Chief Responds To Critics

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

SEBEKA, Minn. (WCCO) — In Sebeka, a town of just 700 people, politics and personalities are hard to cover up. And there are no hiding people’s feelings for Chief of Police Eric Swenson.

Just ask Sylvia Wulf, who led the petition drive to push for the city council to take action against the chief.

“How could somebody be so irresponsible and show such poor judgment?” said Wulf.

The 45-year-old Swenson is as colorful as he is controversial. In his only interview since coming under fire the chief said, “I will admit, I am a cowboy sometimes.”

Swenson says he keeps tabs on the town his way — even if it rubs some the wrong way.

“Yeah, I got some enemies,” said Wulf.

However, lately, some here in this Wadena County community are saying that Swenson’s style is both unprofessional and embarrassing.

It was just last March when a Minnesota Conservation officer caught Swenson in a car with a woman, in Swenson’s words, “getting busy.”

To that embarrassing moment, the chief responded, “if it had been me, I’d never have mentioned a word of it. So what?”

In June, Swenson was coming out of a downtown bar when he responded to a call of a domestic disturbance nearby. Another deputy with Wadena County also responded to the call and detected alcohol on Swenson’s breath.

The official report of the call included Swenson’s condition. The chief argued, “what would you want? Me do nothing when I had this call in my own town, really?”

And last month, he reported SWAT ammunition missing from his home. Investigators looking into the possible theft said the chief’s 9-year-old son may have been playing with it in the backyard.

“Not so,” said Swenson, who found it three days later, inside his home in a box.

“There was no loaded gun, no AR-15, except a magazine for one,” said Swenson. When pressed further if he felt his son was in any danger from the misplaced items, Eric Swenson replied, “no, never was.”

It was that particular incident that prompted the local petition drive against the chief.

Sylvia Wulf said she passed the petition around and got 37 signatures in four hours.

Eric Swenson called it a joke and saidsarcastically, “they should have gotten 500.”

Complaints of Chief Swenson’s job performance make for interesting reading in the local papers. Yet, despite a petition drive to reprimand the chief, he’s broken no laws and that puts the city council in a delicate position.

However, the council did punish the chief with seven days off duty without pay. Swenson called that “plenty harsh,” but he vows to keep doing the job, his way.

When asked if he feels like he has a target on his back, Swenson responded, “absolutely, I do and I don’t know what to do about it.”

More from Bill Hudson
  • Shane G

    People need to get their heads out of their arse and not take life so seriously. You know why?? We all gonna be brittle bones in a matter of years anyways. He’s human, he has sexual relations just like everyone else. How the hell do you think you were born? And he is over 21 so I believe it’s legal to drink. He reported ammunition missing, but misplaced it. Haven’t we all lost something before? And don’t forget all the expectations we have of a “position” or “titles” is all man made anyways. In the beginning their was no such thing as language, police officers, laws etc. Just people living with nature under bushes and in caves. Everything evolved through the years, and everything we know today is all man-made. What do you expect this guy to do? Put his life on the line everyday, then go home and lock himself in a closet? At least he is honest and straight forward and doesn’t ‘hide’ like the Ministers who pretend they are perfect on front of everybody and then do their “bad deeds” behind everybody’s back.

    • BigcatMPLS

      Showing up for a call drunk and carrying a weapon while drinking are both no no’s in policing. If the domestic case goes to court it will be throw out because he had been drinking. This sound like just another suburban police officer that can’t make it in the big city. Also having sex in a car has nothing to do with having an urge but more that someone has impulse control problems. Something you don’t want in a cop.

      • Bob Swenson

        So, Mr. Bigcat MPLS, you made quite the leap from the report. Alcohol on the breath is a lonnnng way from drunk? Was there mention of him carrying a firearm to the call? You must have seen a different report. What does this comment have to do with the report? “another suburban police officer that can’t make it in the big city”. Now that’s different!

  • Shane G

    No I don’t know him personally and you don’t either. That is the problem. People like you living in the community for 30 years yapping and accusing him of pedophilia & murder. All your gossiping is probably the reason he has all these accusations against him in the first place. Maybe it would be best if you moved from the community, eh?

  • Jessica

    Comments like those should be based on facts not opinions. If you had facts to support those allegations he would be in prison. I’ve heard those same rumors but no complaints were ever filed and the investigation into that death was conducted by people working for the Sebeka Police Department and outside agencies. You are implying that ALL of those people are lying to cover something up. Those comments are a prime example of how things get blown out of proportion in the first place. That makes you part of the problem – not part of the solution.

    • RL

      do you your self know what actually happened that night pretaining to the death of the city employee who was killed that night at the pool?everybody knows who was at the pool that night, and are real close friends of his, its funny how people foreget what they say when there drinking &trust me him & his friend are heavy drinkers plus!

      • Bob Swenson

        RL… I assisted with the investigation at the pool. The victim was not a city employee at the time of his death. You are calling my participation into question and in effect are accusing me of being involved in what you are hinting was a cover-up of some kind. And you are accusing me of: “him & his friend are heavy drinkers plus!” There are laws against libel and slander.

        It was an unfortunate accident and nothing more. but if you have facts that you can tell me, feel free. I don’t remember someone with the initials of RL being there, but gosh, if you had more than gossip or a personal grudge you would use your name. Feel free to contact me. I still live by Staples and my number is in the book.

        Bob Swenson, retired Wadena County deputy sheriff. (no relation to Eric)

  • TheresaB

    I reported Lyn S for her defamation or slander of Mr Swenson. I too live in Sebeka and although I do not know much about his personal life it is just that his personal life. I do know however that Eric is a fair policeman. He dealt with someone in my family in a very humane way and that I appreciate. Either we have Chief Swenson or let us have no cop in this town of 700. I cannot even believe there are 700 people in Sebeka. Where are they?

  • TheresaB

    To the slandering commentor: From what do the police need to protect you in Sebeka? I really had a LOL on that one. Oooh.

    • Rob R

      We need to be protected from the chief. You people have no idea what you’re talking about. This guy needs to go.

      • Becky Nolan

        I just have to ask…exactly what is he doing that we need to be protected from?

  • Neutral & Content Sebeka Resident

    I think Wadena county has larger issues to worry about than one police man, in a very peaceful town, doing things that irritate another’s moral values. We have the county sheriff in his own very discrete cover-up, and other members of the law enforcement may also be involved. Why don’t we investigate this?

    Eric is a very fair police officer that has never done anything criminally wrong, nor has he pulled people over who were minding their own business. The essential base of criminal justice is to catch the real criminals, not randomly pull people over without probable cause. After all, is it really about justice or is it about the money? Small communities deserve a police officer that stems from the roots of the community itself. Dont blame him, blame yourselves for living here if this issue is more than you can handle. If we get more than one officer patrolling this small town, I think I may leave too.

  • Neutral & Content Sebeka Resident

    P.S. You dont want to know what happens in Nimrod, 10 minutes east of here. There is no police, just alcohol.

  • Former Nimrodian

    I grew up in this community of hypocrisy. Midnight rendezvous on a quiet back road are the “norm”, as were the rampant unfounded rumors, created by small minded peopled with delusions of grandeur. Eric was a deputy at the time, and always treated me fairly – which brings to mind my comment ….. I don’t think we want to go back to the Norm.

  • alexa johnson

    It’s true, Eric does things his own way and, as a sebeka resident who is aware of MANY folks little “mishaps” both personal and professional, why does our city focus on one man? A man who does an exceptional job keeping the peace in a small town… I, for one, have had many a disagreement with Eric but, that does not affect the fact that he has the respect and trust of so many community members. The council is supporting the views of the few over the views of the many and, in my opinion, THAT should cause railroading more than Swensons actions. The council is not merely trying to fire Eric, they are trying to get him to resign, and in the process, they are littering his career with enough garbage to destroy his future. It’s all politics, which is not how a small, close-knit community should be run. Politics in a town with this small a population drives people and business away! A good officer builds trust, and shows compassion and, over the years, this is what Eric has done. GOOD JOB, ERIC! I have so much more to say but, for now, I’ll keep it to myself.

  • WoundedEagle

    Is this man setting a good example for the people of Sebeka? He took an oath to protect and to serve. It appears that he is only PROTECTING and SERVING his own best interests.
    Eric stated that he feels that there is a target in the middle of his back…is that a wise thing to say in the middle of Deer Hunting Season?
    This investigation is far from over…

    • WoundedEagle

      P.S. How about a little ownership Eric? You know that you blew it on a couple of different levels…MAN UP and ADMIT IT! Make amends and become a better person for it! Either Step Up or Step Out.

      • Bob Swenson

        Or perhaps you could use your real name and “MAN UP” yourself! Wounded Eagle sounds nice, sympathetic, but let us know who you really are. These anonymous posts should not be allowed when you are attacking someone. Either put up or shut up! What investigation? Does Eric have a target on his back? Most likely. We all do at one time or another. Why? Because of rumors, distortions of the truth and folks who just don’t care about the truth or feel better about themselves when they attack others.

        A lie circles the globe twice before the truth gets out of bed.

  • Becky Nolan

    I agree Lex, and couldn’t have said it any better! How can WCCO pick up on this and miiss all the goods on Sav? Wouldn’t that make great news?
    I also have to say, that while Sylvia was out there trying to drum up some outarge for what amounts to a kid playing with night-vision goggles, she only got a total of 37 signatures. Doesn’t that say something? She went door to door, to every house in town, and got just over 5%. Why is that even on here?
    They also forgot to say that Eric was off-duty when the domestic abuse call came in…I’m happy to know that he’s looking out for us when dealing with a sheriff’s department that would rather come to a small neighboring community and bust anyone they can, than clean up the mess in their own community. If that means Eric shows up after a couple of drinks om his own time, I’m good with that.
    As far as I, and the biggest share of this community are concerned, the man is doing an excellent job and I hope he keeps it up for a very long time.

  • Gone but not forgotten

    I see both sides of the fence. Eric is a “good ol’boy” cop! And for the people that have lil mishaps along the way of life that he turns his back and acts like it didnt happen, will respect the man. Small town cops are suppose to know everyone on a personal level which Eric can do with most and he does know what is going on in his small town! But on the other hand the people that stay out of trouble and are model citizen want justice to be served in a professional manor the way a chief of police is suppose to handle persons breaking the law. In my opinion you get a couple city cops in there to protect the town…with in a month everyone will wish Eric was back! And just like a famous person.. everyone has to have there nose in his life in all accepts.. let the man have a personal life

  • Becky Nolan

    While I agree with your opinion on this issue, you should know that “inbred” doesn’t have an “a” in it…and we’re not all like that.

    • Shenanigans

      HAHAHAHAHAHA,,,,good Becky! Go suck it city slicker

    • inbreds

      I beg to differ. There are people married to their first cousins up in those parts. No lie!

    • Becky Nolan

      Yes, there are people married to their first cousins, but that’s universal and not just “up here”, and it isn’t everyone…I’m not saying that there are no inbred people here, just that most of us aren’t.

  • Glad I'm Out

    I lived in Sebeka for over 20 years. Eric…no. He shouldn’t be in law enforcement. That’s all I can say.

  • Sebeka Resident

    How come no one interviewed anyone who does not have a problem with Eric?? Only 1 person was interviewed and does she even live in Sebeka?? Bad reporting on WCCO’s part. I support Eric and he does his job. I do have a problem with the Wadena County Sheriff department covering up a incident with the Wadena County Sheriff. How come this never came out?? Could it be because of the recent election?? Now to me we should be worried about this. I live in Sebeka which is part of Wadena County and I pay taxes shouldn’t we be informed on what our Sheriff is doing wrong??

  • Sebeka Resident

    Sorry I don’t hang out at the the liquor store, or do drugs, so maybe you should not be saying things about people you don’t know!!!!!

  • Stupid Nothing Town

    I do know the chief. Sebeka Resident — to you I say Sebeka deserves Eric. Nice going. You’re showing the world what TOTAL YAHOOS you all are.

  • Karl T

    From what I know of Eric he has always used good digression, and practiced very good community policing techniques while on the job. He does his job, and has a lot of experience in this small town and knows how to handle small town situations. He does show concern and compassion for members in the community. Like in most small towns people like to gossip a lot, and Sebeka is no different. He says she says should not be brought up when discussing the man’s career and livelihood. Sure Eric has made mistakes, but this little group that has decided to target Eric for whatever reason is blowing it out of proportion, and need to take a step back and re-access their situation and what they could do to make Sebeka a better place, because in policing, it is better to have a community that works together and with the police to solve community problems, and eliminating the police has never worked in anyone’s advantage.

  • Stupid Nothing Town

    Sebeka Resident……maybe YOU shouldn’t be saying things about people YOU don’t know. The whole sheriff thing was caused by the Sebeka chief, because he doesn’t get along with the sheriff, and it was dropped. A lot of NOTHING in a STUPID NOTHING TOWN.

    • annymous1593

      The incident with the sheriff had NOTHING to do with the Sebeka Chief. The Sheriff has serious anger issues and had a habbit of taking them out on his family. The Sebeka Chief’s two daughters lived with that freak so ofcourse he would be upset when he heard what the Sheriff was doing to them. It makes me EXTREMELY upset to know that the Sheriff can get away with merely a slap on the wrist and no news coverage while the Eric has media from all over putting all their fingers in his shit and smelling it. People need to pay more attention to the underlying issues rather than just listening to all the slander on the television and reading what’s in the misleading papers.

  • Officers are supposed to be examples

    A badge doesn’t give you the right to do whatever you want. As a police officer, you are supposed to set the example how others should behave – not commit crimes and say “so what?” when people ask about it.

  • Good for Sylvia

    10 signatures per hour is nothing to sneeze at. Keep up the good and courageous work, Sylvia!

    • Becky Nolan

      It wasn’t ten signatures per hour;.I know she was out there for at least three days…she estimated “a total of about four hours”…and I believe that Sylvia lives in Menahga, not Sebeka. I’m not commenting on her dedication, concern, or hard work. I just think it’s misplaced.

      • Good for Sylvia

        They really need to fix the math education in Sebeka. Four hours divided by 40 = 10 per hour average. And don’t pull that “residency” card out because Eric doesn’t live in Sebeka either.

  • WCCO messed this up

    Public indecency is not a crime? Do your homework WCCO!

  • give it up already!

    why is Sylvia collecting signatures and sending the petition around when she is NOT even a resident of Sebeka?! GO Eric!!

  • Annex Sebeka into Nimrod

    GO Eric??? What do you think this is, a sporting event? You people up there are so out of touch with reality. Local law enforcement departments affect every neighboring city, and ERIC doesn’t even live in the city, so DUH!

  • So glad to be out of Sebeka

    I lived in Sebeka for a number of years and am so glad to be out of there. This thread shows the sick mindset in that town and how when a person speaks up about injustices they get trounced by the local yahoos. Stay far, far away from this place.

    • Becky Nolan

      I’ve lived in Sebeka since 1996. I grew up in Staples and spent several years in Washington State. I’m educated, hard working, intelligent and not afraid to sign my name to my comments. Sebeka is one of the nicest, friendliest, most welcoming places I’ve ever seen, and I’m proud to call this beautiful little city home. This is not s “sick” mind set…I love this place, and take offense when others insult us.

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