HOLCOMB — After a 25-minute executive session, the Holcomb City Council on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Holcomb Police Chief Anthony ‘Tony’ Forsen during the council’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Following the meeting, Mayor Gary Newman said Forsen put in his resignation earlier in the Wednesday, effective immediately.
“I certainly thank Tony for his services over the years. He and I spoke on the phone this evening, and I wished him well,” Newman said following Wednesday’s meeting. “I do appreciate all of his services to the community. He is a huge loss.”
Forsen’s resignation comes two months after it was revealed that he provided false information while off duty to Finney County sheriff's deputies after he was involved as a passenger in a "possible DUI" accident on June 16, 2017.
Newman said he could not disclose whether Forsen’s resignation was related to the June 16 incident, saying “it’s a personnel issue,” but added that Forsen put in the resignation himself and was not asked to resign.
Forsen, 41, was a passenger in a 2008 Honda Accord driven by Sarah Dawn Claar, 25, of Scott City. According to a sheriff's accident report, at 11:26 p.m. June 16, Claar was westbound on River Road when she veered into a ditch and struck a utility pole, causing her vehicle to roll over. The vehicle was totaled and Claar was transported to St. Catherine Hospital for treatment of her injuries. No one else was hurt and there were no other passengers.
But the sheriff's office alleged in court documents that Forsen initially gave false information on how he arrived at the scene of the accident, and "gave several false statements and told [the] driver of the vehicle not to tell deputies he was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident."
Court documents suggest the false information was reported to Deputy Jared Mindrup, "knowing that such information is false and intending to influence, impede or obstruct such officers or agencies' duty, namely investigation of an accident and possible DUI."
The Finney County Attorney's Office filed a misdemeanor charge of interference with a law enforcement officer against Forsen, and he ultimately reached a diversion agreement.
Under the agreement, Forsen can't violate any federal, state or local laws for 12 months, including traffic violations resulting in tickets, according to court documents. He also is required to remain in Kansas over the course of the next year, complete 24 hours of community service and pay $808 in fines. If he can complete each of those things within the 12-month diversion period, the charge will be dismissed.
In November, the Holcomb City Council took no action regarding Forsen’s employment related to the incident, and Newman in a statement to KSN TV at the time said the Council believed that "because it happened off duty, it's something that Tony is going to have to deal with on a personal level."
For now, Newman said the Holcomb Police’s officers will work closely with the sheriff’s office on police matters in Holcomb.
“We are fortunate to have a sheriff’s department that’s been very flexible with us,” he said. “They’ve helped us in the past when we’ve been without a chief.”
Newman said the police chief position will be posted to employment sites to find the right candidate for the job.
“We anticipate the process to take three to four months to find the right chief,” he said. “We’ll appoint a council member or two to be a part of that search and the interview process.”
After Wednesday's meeting, Councilman Ron Schreibvogel said he wished Forsen well, but declined to comment further.
According to the City of Holcomb’s website, Forsen began his career with the Holcomb Police Department in April 2000, and after various roles, was promoted to chief in May 2011.
Attempts to reach Forsen for comment as of press time were unsuccessful.
Contact Josh Habour at firstname.lastname@example.org.