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Cold Spring police chief candidate speaks out amid uncertain future

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COLD SPRING, Minn. (KMSP) -

Monday night's City Council meeting over the police chief post in Cold Spring, Minn., saw heated questions and ended awkwardly, without resolution. A day later, the man at the center of it all is sharing his perspective.

It appears that a resume mishap may have cost Eric Johnson his job as police chief in Cold Spring, a simple error that put his life in limbo and threw him from his professional track. After spending nearly two decades leading the police force of another small Minnesota community, Johnson is now spending his days hauling turkeys while he waits for word.

"It's dirty work. I will say that," Johnson told Fox 9 News.

Johnson isn't a trucker, and he admits he never imagined he'd be hauling turkeys out of the Faribault area, hours away from his wife and 12-year-old daughter.

"There are hazards of this job," he said.

For now, he's simply trying to focus on paying the bills.

"It's been absolutely devastating in how this was handled," he said.

The city of Cold Spring offered Johnson the job of police chief nearly 6 weeks ago. He accepted and resigned his post in Minneota after city administrators sent him an e-mail confirming he was hired. Days later, once he had begun making his transition, the Cold Spring City Council reversed course when it came time to finalize Johnson's $70,000 annual salary.

The City Council took a vote of no confidence, stopping the hiring process even though the resignation was already locked in. That left Johnson and his family in a tough spot.

"Very lucky I was able to step in and drive truck full-time within days, but I lost my benefits -- lost health insurance," Johnson said. "I was the provider for my family's health insurance."

At the Monday night meeting of the City Council, city leaders explained they had a change of heart because a sealed complaint was filed against Johnson after he accepted the job. Johnson and his attorney believe the complaint had to do with his First Aid, first-responder and CPR certifications. All were listed on his resume, but had lapsed.

Fox 9 News went looking for answers, but even the man who orchestrated the re-vote wasn't eager to talk about the issue. Johnson has since brought his certifications up to date, but fears it may not be enough since Cold Spring seems poised to move on and leave him without a badge, making runs to and from the processing plant.

"I can't believe these things went this far astray," Johnson admitted.

Currently, Johnson is eating and sleeping in the cab of his truck. He and his attorney are exploring the possibility of a lawsuit if he does not end up with the job he was offered.

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