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Cloquet City Council to discuss hiring for police chief tonight

Cloquet City Councilors will discuss how to proceed with hiring a new police chief during tonight’s public work session, set for 5:30 p.m. (Tuesday, Oct. 17)  at Cloquet City Hall.

The potentially controversial topic is the third item on the work session agenda, and is tentatively slated for 6:30 p.m. (following a discussion of Sappi Log Storage and the state’s response to city questions about the legalities of the Project Labor Agreement the Council approved earlier this year). The council does not take any binding votes during a work session. Although they can watch, citizens are rarely allowed to speak during a work session. There is time set aside for public comments toward the end of the formal meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

It will be the first step the city has taken toward hiring a new chief since the same council placed the previous police chief on paid administrative leave in March. At that time, the council appointed Sgt. Jeff Palmer interim police chief following a closed meeting, bypassing the department’s two commanders.

Although former Police Chief Steve Stracek was found innocent of all allegations following a detailed investigation, he agreed to retire early in June and Palmer has remained in the interim position since March. Mayor Dave Hallback previously said that the city would not move forward with hiring a new police chief until the new city administrator was hired.

A staff request from City Administrator Aaron Reeves — who started at the beginning of the month — outlines three options for the Council to discuss:

  1. Begin an open search for the new Police Chief. The last search used a consultant and cost $16,500. The city could again use a consultant or handle in-house. Either way, the process would take roughly four months.
  2. Do an internal-only hiring process. If the Council feels there are potentially multiple candidates in the police department, the city could post internally only. This will take roughly six months.
  3. Remove the interim tag and appoint Jeff Palmer as Chief. If the council feels that Interim Chief Palmer has met its expectations in performing the duties of police chief, they can appoint him to the position. This would still include the standard one-year probationary period.

Reeves did not make a recommendation in his staff request, stating that he is new to the area and the city. He did note that he would have “ample time” to work with Palmer during his probationary period to help him make a successful transition to chief.

There are also numerous letters of recommendation for Palmer included in the council packet, which is posted online at

The police department has a budget of more than $2.5 million a year.

The police chief job description follows

(listed on the city of Cloquet website at

POSITION: Police Chief


REPORTS TO: City Administrator


Performs administrative and managerial police work involving the protection and safety of the

community through prevention and control of crime, preserving peace, investigating crime, and

providing emergency services, including the development and implementation of department

objectives, policies and procedures.


Serves as a member of the City's senior management team to ensure overall effective

integration of department activities with other City functions.

Plans, organizes, directs, and reviews the operations of the Police Department; cooperates with

federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Establishes and oversees policies, procedures, rules and regulations, standards, and practices

for the department to ensure a safe and efficient operation.

Develops and oversees special programs including community policing, crime prevention and

drug programs; implements, monitors, and evaluates plans and programs.

Directs and manages the police department, establishing and staffing work units to implement

City policing strategy, identify crime patterns, and optimize the impact of police resources.

Communicates with the City Administrator, City Council, Civil Service Commission, the press

and community gatherings, as needed, concerning police issues and problems.

Plans, attends, directs and coordinates meetings.

Coordinates activities with outside agencies, and the community.

Provides guidance and training to all personnel.

Prepares and administers annual department budget; tracks, approves and monitors


Serves as the Emergency Management Director for the City.

Works with local and regional media regarding law enforcement issues and writes and submits

police press releases to the media.

Oversees various technological needs of department including computer network, building

security, squad car computers, cameras and other related devices.

Review and prepares payroll for the police department.

Reviews department operations and develops short and long-term goals.

Performs other duties as apparent or assigned.


Supervises employees in the Police Department either directly or through subordinate

supervisors. Responsible for the overall direction, coordination, and evaluation of this unit.

Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the policies, procedures and

applicable laws of the City and/or Citizens Advisory Board. Responsibilities include interviewing;

training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; evaluating performance; rewarding

and disciplining employees; suspending employees; transferring employees; adjusting

grievances; addressing complaints and resolving problems; and the ability to recommend hiring,

promotion, demotion and discharge of employees.


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty

satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or

ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with

disabilities to perform the essential functions.


Bachelor's degree (B. A.) from four-year college or university in Police Administration, Criminal

Justice or related field (Master's Degree preferred); eight to ten years progressive police

experience, four of which are in a police supervisory capacity; or equivalent combination of

education and experience.


Ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals,

technical procedures, or governmental regulations. Ability to write reports, business

correspondence, and procedure manuals. Ability to effectively present information and

respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public.

Possesses strong written and oral communication skills.


Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in all units of measure, using whole numbers,

common fractions, and decimals. Ability to compute rate, ratio, and percent.


Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations

where only limited standardization exists. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished

in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form. Reacts calmly and decisively in emergency

situations and makes sound decisions and provides strong leadership.


Ability to evaluate oral and written information into a logical course of action.

General knowledge of personnel, labor and management related laws and practices.

Ability to operate Law Enforcement related equipment including firearms.

Ability to perform research.

Thorough knowledge of the theories, principles and practices of modern police science and


Thorough understanding of Civil Service Law.

Considerable knowledge of specialized computer operations.

Working knowledge of management information systems.

Ability to investigate, understand and train staff on the latest technologies used in law


Ability to prepare and administer an annual budget.


Valid Minnesota Police Officer License. Valid Minnesota Class D Driver's License.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to sit. The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; and use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools, or controls. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, and depth perception.


The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.