Cloquet Police Chief Exonerated, Retires; What’s Next?

CLOQUET, Minn. – After a three-month investigation, Cloquet’s police chief, Steve Stracek, is cleared of that “vote of no confidence” complaint by officers of his own department. It’s part of a separation agreement between Stracek and the city, which includes Stracek retiring Thursday. And now, for the first time since the investigation began in March, a longtime police commander is speaking out on behalf of the department, as FOX 21’s Dan Hanger reports.

“I’m not going to make any comment on the whole situation as a whole,” said Commander Carey Ferrell.

While it was not officially known Wednesday what specific allegations were made against Stracek or what the investigation concluded, the hope for unity was very clear.

“Any department that has a situation like this is trying on all members. We have a good group of officers here and we are going to continue to move forward and provide police services,” said Ferrell.

Ferrell has worked for the Cloquet Police Department for more than two decades.  He told FOX 21’s Dan Hanger he wants the community to know that despite all the drama surrounding the chief, he and his fellow officers are committed to the job.

“I’m very dedicated to the citizens of Cloquet and the Cloquet Police Department. It gave me an opportunity to serve and help people 24 years ago and I am going to do that until I leave,” Ferrell said.

As for Stracek, he declined to comment Wednesday.

But city councilor Kerry Kolodge, did release the following statement:

“The past three months have been very difficult for the residents of Cloquet, as well as for Chief Stracek and his family. I was pleased to see that he was reinstated as Chief and cleared of all charges. However, his pending retirement means the City of Cloquet will lose an excellent leader and an equally good man. He will retire having earned tremendous support from the Cloquet community.

I worked with Steve for 18 years in Duluth. He was one of the most knowledgeable, ethical police officers I have worked with. He was a police officer who was accorded great respect by the regional and statewide law enforcement community. I wish him the best as he moves-on from this.”

Meanwhile, as the city moves to eventually hire a new police chief, Commander Ferrell believes the younger officers recently hired on the force will provide a boost of energy for a stronger department ahead.

“The community can only benefit from what we have, and going forward, and the desire and ambitions of our core officers, our young officers,” said Ferrell.

Mayor Dave Hallback released the following statement to FOX 21 Wednesday evening:

“I would like to thank all city councilors members , Interim City Administrator James Barclay and Attorney Brandon Fitzsimmons for putting in the extra effort in resolving this matter . I would also like to thank the citizens of Cloquet for their patience and respect throughout this process.  In moving forward I would like to reassure the citizens of Cloquet that myself and the council will continue to work together in replacing Chief Stracek.”

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