Fargo police chief under scrutiny, commissioners discuss improvement plan

One commissioner said the problems are jeopardizing public safety

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – A Fargo city commissioner wants city administrators to place Police Chief David Zibolski on a performance improvement plan in the wake of several concerns raised by former officers during exit interviews.

“This commission can do something, and here’s what I’m going to do.  It’s now time to pull in the administration from the city of Fargo and see how we get this department well,” City Commissioner Tony Gehrig said during a special city commission meeting Tuesday.

The meeting was arranged by Mayor Tim Mahoney after city documents revealed that more than 30 police officers and support staff have left the department, either through retirement or resignation since police chief David Zibolski was named to the post just over a year ago.

Some employees cited a lack of leadership at the administrative level of the department, low morale, understaffing and other issues. One departing officer called it a “crisis.”

“First we need to specifically define what a successful police department looks like.  Second, we need to clearly identify how our department is not meeting that standard.  And then, third, we define exactly how we get from where we are to that ideal police department,” Gehrig said.

Gehrig says he wants Zibolski and city administrators to sign a contract.  He says if improvements aren’t made after a specific time frame, “something needs to happen, either we stick with the chief that we have, or we don’t.”

Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said he was unaware of the problems in the police department. “This is alarming” Piepkorn said.  “We should have known about this.  We didn’t anything about this. Why didn’t we know?  This is jeopardizing public safety.”

Zibolski said he welcomes the additional scrutiny.  “I think it’s fine that the commission wants to have a more active role. I’m 100% open to providing whatever information they want. Everything we do is transparent.”

Mayor Tim Mahoney ended the meeting by saying that he supports Gehrig’s proposal. “I echo what Commissioner Gehrig has said. I anticipate on Monday, we will have a plan of action that we are going to get through.”

READ the documents:

Anonymous Letters Exit Interviews

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News