(March 19, 2020) – Sean Gormley, a former patrol officer and a police chief, says a state arbitrator “got it right,” when he ruled police detective Travis Serafin should be reinstated by the Eden Prairie Police Department.
“Officer Serafin is a terrific detective who paid a tremendous price for making a paperwork mistake while doing his job,” said Gormley, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS). “He lost his job and 16 months of income. He just needs to get back to work and show people that he’s the same top-notch detective he’s always been,” he said.
Serafin was fired in November of 2018 after being accused of falsifying a search warrant on a drug case as part of the Southwest Hennepin Drug Task Force in October 2018. LELS challenged the decision and the case went to arbitration.
Although Serafin made a mistake, Gormley said the decision to terminate him failed to consider his sterling record as a detective, his skills as a police officer, and for the respect his fellow officers have for him. He was also once named Officer of the Year by his department.
Still, Hennepin County prosecutors described Serafin’s actions as “devastating” and “inexcusable.” They asked judges to vacate convictions in 22 cases involving Serafin and to dismiss dozens of pending cases. His employer questioned his ability to credibly testify in future court cases.
“What’s inexcusable is Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s decision to let dangerous people back onto the streets without getting all of the facts,” Gormley said. “Officer Serafin was denied basic due process rights by his employer and by Hennepin County,” Gormley said. “It was a rush to judgement. So here we are.”
Gormley added that both the City of Eden Prairie and Hennepin County have done irreparable damage to Serafin’s reputation.
The arbitrator ruled Serafin is a “credible witness” who did not intentionally falsify the search warrant, calling it a “simple, human mistake.” The arbitrator noted Serafin’s mistake came during a nine-day period in which he was managing 20 separate drug cases and had just worked a 17-hour day. The arbitrator also found that Serafin did not knowingly lie under oath.
“He made a mistake. He’s human. This should not prevent him from getting his job back and serving his community. He deserves that chance,” Gormley said.