Council upholds decision denying Rohloff benefits

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The New Prague City Council revisited its decision from a year ago regarding a request for benefits for former police chief Dennis Rohloff. In the end, the council upheld its decision denying the request

More than 70 people attended Monday’s meeting. Rohloff was not present at the meeting, but more than half of the audience was there for the council’s decision on his request.

Rohloff served as the chief for 25 years and made a request to the city concerning medical benefits in March 2004. After months of gathering data, the council made its original decision to deny the request.

As part of the process, Rohloff had submitted an application for benefits to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) of Minnesota. The organization concluded that he qualified for benefits under Minnesota Statute 2991.465, which covers police officers and firefighters. Under the statute, the city would pay the benefits, and would be reimbursed by the state.

Bob Alsop, the city’s attorney with the city’s law firm of Kennedy & Graven, reviewed the information and concerns from a year ago. Among those concerns, was that the state had not provided enough funds to reimburse the cities and the issue of whether the benefits covered only physical injuries, or included stress related injuries that come from physical-medical issues.

Based on the information the council had a year ago, it felt the law pertained to physical injuries.

Alsop said that a year ago the council was looking for information to help guide it in its decision, whether that guidance come from the state legislature or a court case.

The council got guidance from both the courts and the legislature, but the two sources apparently conficted with each other.

In August the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in a similar case, Conway v. St. Louis County, that stress-related injuries were covered. The legislature made an amendment in July concerning the cause of the injuries and whether it came in the line of duty.

Public comments

Several members of the audience spoke in favor of granting the benefits.

I hope we don’t continue to treat our former employees the way we’ve treated our former chief

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