- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

MINATARE, Neb. (AP) - The Minatare Chief of Police says that he and two of his officers will be reinstated after having their law enforcement certification suspended for failing to meet annual requirements.

The Star Herald (https://bit.ly/172SiMO ) reports that Police Chief Robert Regester and officers Jim Lawson and Mike Youngquist were suspended on Feb. 11 because they failed to meet annual firearms training and continuing education requirements. Regester and Youngquist failed to meet both requirements, while Lawson only failed to meet the firearms training requirement.

Each year, officers are required to take a firearms test to certify their handgun skills, and complete 20 hours of continuing education. Each department must submit certification documents by Dec. 31.

Bill Muldoon, the director of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, said that the Minatare department was the only agency that had issues meeting compliance this year, and that it had trouble with requirements “going back a number of years.”

“It is a continuing issue. …The time keeps going by and we still don’t see it (the paperwork),” Muldoon said. “I do not know what the hold up is, but it is a repeat issue every year.”

Regester told the paper that he thought that he had sent off the compliance documentation and called it a “paperwork error.”

“If it was my fault, I will take full accountability for it. I thought we completed the proper paperwork,” he said. “It is being taken care of. It was not intentional and I think that it got blown out of proportion.”

Lawson, who was the only one to meet the continuing education requirement, said he took it upon himself to submit the documentation.

“I did not know how other departments were doing it (meeting the continuing education requirements) so instead of taking a chance, I submitted the documentation myself,” Lawson said. The officer said that he could not send in the firearms documentation because that had to be signed by the police chief.

Lawson is now concerned about the suspension showing up on his record.

“All of the sudden, there is a blemish on your record,” Lawson said. “If your license or certification has been suspended or revoked and you apply for a job and are asked about it on an application, you have to mark the ‘yes’ box. Are they going to ask you any further about it? I don’t know.”

The Minatare police department could face further punishment. The Police Standards Advisory Council will consider fining the department at their Feb. 18 meeting. The city could face a fine of up to $500.

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Information from: Star-Herald, https://www.starherald.com

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