Rochester City Council Stands Behind Police Chief Peterson
Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson continues to have the full support of the City Council.
That’s according to the lawyer who represented the city in this week’s settlement of the Eli Umpierre case.
The veteran officer reached a $1-million settlement with the city to end her bias claim against Peterson and the police department. Peterson had recommended her termination over some Facebook posts and her complaint about suspected racial bias by white police officers in an employment decision. Umpierre later filed a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
The city will pay $800,000 of the settlement. The rest will come from the League of Minnesota Cities. Umpierre will be paid $600,000 while her law firm will get the rest of the settlement.
The city’s case was handled by the League of Minnesota Cities’ insurance department. League attorney Jana O'Leary Sullivan responded to questions that KROC News submitted to City Council President Randy Staver after the settlement was announced.
Here are the questions and her answers:
Q: Where is the City getting the $800,000 it has to pay to settle this?
A: The City’s portion of the settlement will be paid from a combination of the police department’s budget, the City’s contingency fund, and the City’s insurance reserve account.
Q: Did you or any other council members consider fighting this?
A: In consultation with legal counsel, the City Council considered all of its options. Ultimately and as reflected in the unanimous decision approving the settlement agreement, the City Council believes that the settlement is in the best interests of the City, City staff, Ms. Umpierre, and our residents.
Q: Are you or other council members upset about this?
A: While I do not think anyone wants to spend $1 million on a lawsuit and although this was a difficult decision for the Council, the other Councilmembers and I believe that this settlement is in the best interests of everyone involved and our residents.
Q: Are you or other council members upset at Chief Peterson over this? If not, does he have your full support?
A: After reviewing the matter, the City Council is confident that Chief Peterson did not do anything wrong and that he did not discriminate or retaliate against or otherwise mistreat Ms. Umpierre. The City Council fully supports Chief Peterson. The settlement agreement also notes that the City denies any wrongdoing.