Commission orders Rude be officially terminated as city employee

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Austin police commission on Monday officially ordered that Curt Rude be terminated as a city employee.

This came four days after the three-member Austin Police Civil Service Commission convened to hear arguments for and against retaining the former police captain.

Ultimately, the commission’s unanimous decision was simple — because Rude’s license was revoked by a state agency Dec. 28, a result of his November felony drug conviction, the police department can’t employ him, the commission stated in its written report.

Rude, who had not been served with the termination order as of Tuesday afternoon, said during Thursday’s hearing that the city should afford him more time because he was looking at possibly appealing the revocation and getting his license back.

The former captain said he had been in contact with the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which handles officer licensure in the state, regarding a possible appeal. Rude added that he expected to learn more about his fate within two weeks.

A POST Board official said in an e-mail that he was “limited” in what he could discuss regarding the case. The official did not respond to a subsequent request for more information.

Rude said he was optimistic that he could get his license back and work as an Austin cop again, perhaps even as the chief following Paul Philipp’s Jan. 31 retirement.

“I feel I have a lot left in my heart and soul,” Rude said to the commission Thursday. “Please consider my offer to continue serving in this department.”

However, the commission was limited by law to three days in responding to the case. The commission, which includes members Ron Howard, Douglas Myers and Belita Schindler, also wrote that Rude did not provide enough specific information on the status of his talks with the POST Board. The commission said the former captain did not provide any exact hearing dates, nor did he back up his claims with any legal evidence, since Rude represented himself and did not call anyone from the board to testify.

Rude was originally charged with felony theft and drug possession in November 2007 after he took two bottles of the prescription painkiller OxyContin prescribed to Mark Johnson from the Austin Police Department’s evidence room.

Johnson, a close friend of Rude’s and a former KAAL-TV reporter, died of an OxyContin overdose earlier that year.

He was found guilty of the drug charge in November 2009 by an Olmsted County jury, and a month later, Rude was sentenced to five years probation and 200 hours of community service.

The former captain’s criminal record will be clear of the felony if he abides by the terms of his probation.