Former Cloquet Police Department chief Wade Lamirande has leveled accusations of misconduct at four more CPD officers.
In a complaint filed with the city of Cloquet on Friday, March 22, Lamirande accused CPD sergeants Tom Hallfrisch and Rick Benko and officers Nathan Cook and Brett Reinsch of violating the CPD'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 social media.
The photo shows Hallfrisch, Cook, Reinsch and Benko posing in uniform with Hallback, who is holding a "Re-Elect Dave Hallback" sign in front of a CPD cruiser.
The photo was shared Sept. 7 by the administrators of the Facebook page "Cloquet Citizens United," a page for politically active community members that was largely critical of Hallback and his handling of CPD issues during his time as mayor.
Lamirande asserts the photo violates the professional conduct policy contained in the CPD policy manual. Specifically, Lamirande believes the officers violated a rule of conduct that states: "Peace officers shall not make endorsements of political candidates while on duty or while wearing the agency's official uniform."
"The officers and sergeants in that photo - and the other CPD officers - need to know that taking a photo like that is not appropriate in uniform," Lamirande said.
Hallback, a former CPD officer, claims the picture was a personal photo not intended for campaign use. Hallback said he doesn't use social media and didn't have a Facebook campaign page during his 2018 bid for re-election. Hallback was defeated by Roger Maki in November.
"It was just a picture of me and my friends at the end of the parade," Hallback said. "(Lamirande's) just trying to cause trouble and that's all it is."
Hallback said in a phone interview Monday, March 25, he never posted the photo publicly and didn't know how it got into the possession of the CCU administrator. He believed the photo was taken using his personal cellphone, but after more than six months, he can't confirm that.
It is unclear if the photo was shared elsewhere on social media. Lamirande said he first saw the photo on the CCU Facebook page.
CCU administrators didn't respond to the Pine Journal's request for comment.
Palmer Cloquet City Administrator Aaron Reeves and Assistant City Administrator James Barclay, are also the subjects of an active investigation as a result of a separate complaint filed Jan. 30 by Lamirande accusing them of misconduct.
In another complaint, also filed Jan. 30, Lamirande accused Cloquet's Ward 5 City Councilor Steve Langley of a pattern of misconduct. Lamirande claims Langley falsely accused him of crimes and engaged in a pattern of intimidation by contacting Stephanie Hammitt, the interim president of Cloquet's Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, where Lamirande is the law enforcement program coordinator, among other allegations.
Langley filed a criminal complaint charging Lamirande with assault and disorderly conduct July 16, 2018, following an argument in the parking lot of L&M Fleet Supply in Cloquet. Palmer referred the investigation to the Grand Rapids Police Department. The independent law firm Dryer and Overom reviewed the GRPD investigation and found insufficient evidence to warrant charges.
Langley filed a second complaint alleging Lamirande yelled at him during the Cloquet Labor Day Parade - the same day the photo of Hallback and the CPD officers was taken - but no investigation was initiated.
During its March 19 meeting, the Cloquet City Council ordered a separate investigation into Langley.