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Ex-police chief's bid for re-certification denied

The DCI began investigating the department after Eisenbarth reported that drug money was missing from the department's evidence locker.

June 23, 2016

The former police chief of the Flandreau Police Department who resigned amid a state investigation into his department won't have his lawman's certification reinstated.

Mike Eisenbarth had taken a job as a Moody County sheriff's deputy earlier this year and needed the South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission to reinstate his certification. The commission voted unanimously not to reinstate the certification.

Kelly Marnette, an assistant attorney general who represents the commission, said the decision not to reinstate was made on a motion that Eisenbarth lacked "good moral character."

Flandreau resident Dave Ahlers, who was among local residents angered when Eisenbarth was hired by Moody County, filed a complaint with the commission. The Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the complaint prior to the reinstatement hearing and presented the evidence to the commission.

"We just presented the facts of what we found when we investigated Mr. Ahlers' complaints," Marnette said.

RELATED:Leaked investigation reveals Flandreau police misconduct

Ahlers said the decision restored his faith in law enforcement. But he said it's unfortunate that local officials – the county commission, state's attorney and sheriff among them – decided to hire Eisenbarth.

"I'm happy that he's not going to be a police officer, but I'm not happy this is the way it was done," Ahlers said.

"I'm very sad that we had to go to Pierre and get done what should have been done at the local level," he added.

Eisenbarth can appeal the commission's decision to circuit court, Marnette said. It was unclear if he planned to do that. Sheriff Troy Wellman, the man who hired him to be a deputy and who testified on his behalf in front of the commission, could not immediately be reached.

"I feel bad for Mike because it didn't have to go like this," Ahlers said.

Eisenbarth's tenure in the Flandreau Police Department, which ended in 2013, came under scrutiny earlier this year when DCI reports were leaked to the public and Argus Leader Media. The DCI began investigating the department after Eisenbarth reported that drug money was missing from the department's evidence locker.

While the investigation determined that one officer was stealing money, it also revealed widespread abuse. Officers, including Eisenbarth, were accused of taking confiscated alcohol for personal consumption. They also used firearms that were in evidence for animal control in order to put down animals without having to use their duty firearms, which meant they didn't have to file reports. Some officers also used a video game consul from the evidence locker to play video games and watch movies during work hours.

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