Deputy wrecks 33 times in 17 years, but union fights for his job

As a law officer in Minnesota, former Todd County Deputy Sheriff Mark Grinstead didn't miss much.

After all, why try to avoid something when it's a lot easier to just hit it?

Grinstead, it must be said, hit many things -- deer, cows, trees, buildings and snow banks, for example. In 17 years, he had 33 wrecks.

Grinstead racked up about $100,000 in losses while patrolling the rural county roads.

A certified emergency vehicle instructor, Grinstead served as a Todd County field training officer, "working with less experienced Deputies familiarizing them with such duties as operation of squad cars under different conditions," according to state arbitration records.

No kidding.

His record in the line of duty, while driving a patrol car, includes run-ins with 19 deer, a dog, pheasants, cows, a garage, a fence post and a raccoon.

After hitting a ditch and several trees in pursuit of a speeder in 2005, Grinstead wrote the sheriff:  "I have to slow down," Grinstead was quoted in an arbitrator's account. "Being a pursuit-driving instructor, I have to set the example, not be the example ... I have learned that my crashes put a burden on the Todd County Sheriff's Office, are bad publicity and I should not need to swap squad cars with other Deputies."

As "squad car crashes increased notably" - four crashes in two months and three vehicles in the repair shop - Todd County officials fired Grinstead in May 2013.

Case closed? Not by a long shot.

Minnesota's biggest law enforcement labor union promptly filed a grievance with a state arbitrator.

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