Former Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande isn't satisfied with the outcome of an investigation into a complaint he filed March 22 against the department.

Lamirande accused sergeants Tom Hallfrisch and Rick Benko and officers Nathan Cook and Brett Reinsch of violating the department’s professional conduct policy in September. A photo of them pictured with then-candidate and former Cloquet Mayor Dave Hallback after the Cloquet Labor Day Parade surfaced on Facebook.

The photo shows the officers posing in uniform with Hallback, who is holding a "Re-Elect Dave Hallback" sign.

In a letter dated July 17, Interim Police Chief Carey Ferrell notified Lamirande of the final disposition. The CPD concluded that the complaints against the four officers are “not-sustained.”

Per department policy, “non-sustained” is defined as when an investigation closes, there is insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the member.

“Although your complaint against all four officers is not-sustained, there will be department-wide coaching related to the concerns in your complaint,” Ferrell stated in the letter.

Lamirande, who is now the law enforcement program coordinator at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, said the disposition is “not the outcome that I thought would come from the complaint.”

“A picture tells a thousand words,” he told the Pine Journal on Tuesday, July 23. “Officers were obviously in uniform. It’s my understanding that this was when they were on duty and being paid.”

Lamirande questioned why the police department will be required to have training “if nothing was done wrong.”

Wade Lamirande
Wade Lamirande

“This isn’t a crime-of-the-century kind of thing,” he said. “I would’ve got ahead of this and explained it creates mistrust. Have some remedial training, put a letter in their file, and this thing is done.”

The complaint is one of several Lamirande has leveled against the department since he retired from the CPD nearly six years ago. He said he has no immediate plans to pursue further complaints, but would consider an appeal if the option is available.

Cloquet City Administration Aaron Reeves told the Pine Journal on Wednesday, July 24, that he can’t comment on the complaint because it’s a personnel matter.

“I can say that unless a potential disciplinary action would rise to the level of suspension or termination, there is not any review or discussion by the council,” Reeves said. “It is handled by the department head and administration staff.”

Previous complaints

The council voted to censure Ward 5 Councilor Steve Langley in June after allegations of misconduct were substantiated by an independent investigator.

In a complaint filed Jan. 30, Lamirande accused Langley of eight instances of misconduct, including that Langley engaged in a pattern of intimidation by sending unwanted text messages and contacting Stephanie Hammitt, the interim president of FDLTCC.

Langley filed a complaint charging Lamirande with assault and disorderly conduct following an argument in July 2018 at L&M Fleet Supply. Police Chief Jeff Palmer referred the investigation to the Grand Rapids Police Department. An independent law firm reviewed the Grand Rapids investigation and found insufficient evidence to warrant charges.

In April, Palmer was cleared of eight allegations of misconduct and malfeasance made by Lamirande.

In complaints filed Feb. 5, Lamirande accused Palmer, as well as Langley, Reeves and Assistant City Administrator James Barclay, of a list of misconduct related to the CPD. Reeves and Barclay were exonerated by the council April 16.

Palmer has been on paid voluntary leave since April for unknown reasons; the city stated it is unrelated to the investigation.