Osakis police officer and alleged SRO resigns – Alexandria Echo Press

OSAKIS — The Osakis City Council was rocked by another high-profile resignation this week. Officer Dave Gizinski notified Police Chief Chad Gulbranson and sent an email to the city on July 1, stating his last day would be July 4.

Gizinski, who was the presumed new school resource officer (SRO) for Osakis Public Schools, has been with the Osakis Police Department since August 2022 and has served as a DARE officer since 2023. He declined to tell Echo Press about his new position, but says, “What I did, I did for the good of me and my family, and I just want to leave it at that.”

A visibly frustrated Osakis Mayor Dan Wessel addressed the City Council Monday evening, July 8, saying, “We just lost one of our best officers we’ve ever had. The people of this city love him. They like what he did. Our school — they wanted him. He was good for our city. And now he’s gone.”

“I am really concerned that we will not be able to keep officers in our city”

Wessel told the council, “I’m really concerned that we can’t keep officers in our city. I met with the chief of police in Long Prairie. He has six full-time officers, including himself. He also has five part-time officers in the city of Long Prairie, which has a population of 3,995.

“But we can’t stop any here in Osakis City. I think it’s a problem. I think it’s a big problem and I’m tired of holding back. Let’s look at the real reason. Let’s look at it. Why is that?”

“We are now the laughing stock of the police world”

Wessel continued, “David left. He handed in his notice. He left. He didn’t want to sign an exit interview because he talked about the possibility of coming back and working part-time in the city. So given the concerns he shared with me, it’s hard for me to understand why he would want to come back and work in the city of Osakis in the first place.

“I think our boss knows why he left. Our boss knows that. Let’s not sweep any more shit under the rug. Let’s be honest. Let’s move forward. Let’s address this. Because either David is lying or Chad (Gulbranson, Osakis police chief) is lying, because David shared things with me that he (says) shared with Chad.

Dan Wessel

“It’s so depressing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We’re now the laughing stock of the police world. David spoke to the officers. They’re laughing at our police here in Osakis City.”

Wessell continued, pointing to each council member in turn: “You know who else they’re laughing at? You, you, you, me, you. Because we allow it. Us. We’re a laughing stock. I’ll tell you what, I’ve talked to people. I’ve talked to officers, I’ve talked to dispatchers.”

“Are we starting to look at countywide? Disband our police department like Morris did?”

Wessel continued: “I don’t know, council. (Should) we start looking at countywide? And disband our police department like Morris did? I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. Do we buy out our two officers and thank them for their service? What are we going to do? We can’t continue with this.”

Wessel proposed a closed meeting to discuss the issue in more detail, but Councilman Al Larson had questions.

“Same thing we had with the road department. Nobody wanted to have this closed meeting,” Larson said. “But now we want to have a closed meeting on this? And I start to wonder, what’s going on here?” To which Wessel interjected, “We know what’s going on here, Al. We know what’s going on here. We’re just afraid to admit it.”

“We definitely need to hold a closed session”

City Councilwoman Stephanie Finnegan, who serves on the council’s personnel committee with Wessel, said, “We don’t need anyone getting into legal issues about anything. If you have something you need to share with the council that involves personnel issues, we definitely need to go into closed session because otherwise we’re going to get in legal trouble.”

Minnesota’s open meetings law requires all meetings of public bodies in Minnesota to be open to the public, with limited exceptions, including labor negotiations and employee performance reviews (however, the meeting must be open at the request of an employee).

In addition, when a public body closes a meeting, it must make a statement in the minutes stating the specific statutory provision that allows the meeting to be closed and also detailing what will be discussed at the closed meeting, which requires more than just indicating possible topics for discussion.

The Council will consider the possibility of holding a closed meeting next week.

Lisa Johnson has been a radio journalist, host and producer for more than half of her life. She began her radio career playing country music at KWWK/KOLM Radio in Rochester, Minnesota. She has worked in Moorhead, Bismarck, Wahpeton and Fergus Falls, and has spent the last 30 years anchoring a morning news show in Duluth. She is happy to be back closer to her family in western Minnesota and an unabashed morning person.

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