After nearly four months of paid voluntary leave, Cloquet Police Department Chief Jeff Palmer handed in his resignation Thursday, Aug. 8, at City Hall.
Palmer placed himself on leave in April following a three-month investigation into allegations of misconduct by former CPD Chief Wade Lamirande. Lamirande accused Palmer, as well as City Administrator Aaron Reeves and Assistant City Administrator James Barclay, of misconduct related to the CPD.
Palmer was cleared in April by in a report prepared by independent investigator Michelle Soldo, but also placed himself on leave about the same time. Soldo cleared Reeves and Barclay of wrongdoing in March.
Controversy followed Palmer throughout his tenure as chief. The City Council appointed interim chief when former Chief Steve Stracek was placed on administrative leave in March 2017. Stracek was placed on leave while the City Council conducted an investigation into a "vote of no confidence" filed by the Teamsters Local 346, which represents CPD officers and sergeants.
After a lengthy investigation, Stracek was exonerated of allegations contained in the letter, but also retired as chief.
The City Council removed the interim tag from Palmer’s title in October 2017.
Commander Carey Ferrell was appointed acting chief in Palmer’s absence and is now the interim chief, Reeves said.
Calls to Palmer were not immediately returned. Reeves said he couldn’t comment on Palmer’s reasoning because of privacy concerns.
Reeves, who is leaving to take a job as city administrator in Hudson, Wis., in September, said he would recommend the City Council wait to hire a new chief until a new city administrator is hired and an ongoing police study is complete. The police study should be available for the council by September.