After more than a year of officers serving in an interim role, Cloquet has a new permanent police chief.

The Cloquet City Council voted to appoint Derek Randall as the Cloquet Police Department Chief during its meeting Tuesday, June 2.

After more than three hours of interviews with three candidates and discussion of different strengths and weaknesses, the council voted 6-1 in favor of Randall. Ward 5 Councilor Steve Langley was the lone dissenting vote.

Randall is currently serving as the interim CPD chief. He was appointed to the position in September after Commander Carey Ferrell took a medical leave of absence. Randall has been with CPD since 2001, having served as a patrol officer, detective and investigative commander in that time. Ferrell stepped into the interim role after former Chief Jeff Palmer went on his own medical leave and eventually resigned.

There was some discussion about Randall’s lack of experience among the councilors, but his familiarity with the department and the community outweighed those concerns.

“I think the relationships that I’ve built over the last 20 years at the Cloquet PD are key,” Randall told the council. “I have a vast network of relationships with people in our region, state and nationally that I can collaborate with and that I have collaborated with to complete tasks and be successful as a leader.”

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Randall also highlighted his work with the department to create drug recognition evaluator and computer forensic examiner positions in the department. He also noted his work as interim chief to get more value for the city with the purchase of two new squad vehicles and new handguns for the department in 2019.

The budget has been an ongoing issue for the CPD, and Randall said the turnover in the department caused them to miss out during planning for the 2020 budget. Randall said he is working with city staff to identify and root out inefficiencies within the department.

He is also working to implement many of the recommendations of the 2019 police study the council ordered. One recommendation was to end the longtime practice of picking up and dropping off officers at home before and after shifts. He was already working on ending the policy when the coronavirus pandemic struck and caused it to stop because of new sanitation practices.

“I was open and honest with everyone as to our rationale and that it likely would not be returning,” Randall said. “I think being transparent with them, and communicating clearly the reasons why, there was buy-in, and they followed and it has really been a non-issue since.”

Randall has also spoken with all members of the CPD regarding the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground with his knee for more than eight minutes.

“I kept them up-to-date on what was happening around us, particularly in the Twin Cities,“ Randall said. “I highlighted the fact of how powerful it is to wear the badge and how one officer’s behavior affected the entire world. I wanted them to be cognizant of that and make sure we are doing the right things and doing them on purpose and for a reason.”

Randall also hosted a “use of force” training online for the public to view and understand.

“I want people to know our policies and what our expectations will be and how we will be held accountable to those policies,” he said.

In dissenting, Langley claimed Randall has shared private data with those outside the department in recent years and he didn’t trust him in the top spot.

“I just felt that we are not hiring the top candidate again, and it was a bad move last time and I think it would be a bad move again,” Langley said.

All six councilors who voted in favor of Randall’s appointment thought he was a strong candidate who had performed well in stepping into the chief’s role unexpectedly in September. They also thought Troy Bacon — police chief in Frankfort, Indiana — displayed the characteristics they wanted in the position in Cloquet.

“I felt that Mr. Bacon was very well qualified and certainly would be up to the job,” Mayor Roger Maki said. “While I haven’t had a lot of discussions with Derek in the last eight or nine months, I’ve had a few, and I think that in hard circumstances he’s been doing a good job.”

Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang also interviewed for the position.