New Cloquet Police Chief Vows For Better Community Relations

Jeff Palmer Has Been On Dept. For 16 Years

CLOQUET, Minn. –  The city of Cloquet officially has a new police chief. This comes after the former chief, Steve Stracek, agreed to retire with no wrongdoing after a “vote of no confidence” by his officers.

Cloquet’s new chief is Jeff Palmer – a 16-year veteran of the department who was previously tapped as the interim chief by the city council when Stracek left the department seven months ago.   Palmer is also a former police chief of Floodwood and started off his career as a patrol officer in New Orleans in 1991.

Palmer told FOX 21 besides narrowing in on fighting the opioid epidemic, he and his department will be focusing hard on building better relationships with the community.

“Those members of the community that have … lost a little trust of the police department, I want to rebuild on that, and allow them the chance to get to know me, get to know the department, and just know that we are going to provide them the best service that we can,” Palmer said.

Meanwhile, Palmer was able to skip the interview process for the chief position because Mayor Dave Hallback and three councilors voted at Tuesday’s night’s meeting to appoint Palmer and bypass the traditional open hiring process.

Mayor Hallback says Palmer has proven he deserves the promotion and has the support from people like the county attorney, among others. (see below for Mayor Hallback’s written statement)

But not all agree.

Cloquet city councilor Kerry Kolodge released the following statement to FOX 21:

“I was one of three councilors who advocated for an open and competitive process to fill the police chief’s position, not a direct appointment. Obviously there were four councilors who didn’t agree,” Kolodge said. “It was a disappointing night for many in the city –citizens who attended the meeting hoping to see the council vote for an open process left feeling frustrated and angry with the outcome.”

It should be noted, roughly 10 years ago, Palmer was fired from the Cloquet Police Department after having an intimate relationship with a witness or potential witness in a child porn case he was investigating.

Palmer was eventually reinstated after an arbitrator concluded the firing to be too excessive for the misconduct at the time.

Mayor Hallback believes that page is turned and the city and the department are positioned for a positive future under Chief Palmer.

The following statement is from Mayor Hallback on the appointment of Jeff Palmer to the chief of police position:

“It is my feeling and strong belief that this is a positive move for not only the men and women of the Cloquet Police Department but the entire community as a whole.

Jeff has proven to me and other members of the Cloquet City Council that he deserves this. Jeff was interim Chief for the past 7 months and he has done a tremendous job. Jeff has overwhelming support from the community as well as the surrounding area. Jeff came highly recommended as his 14 letters of support reflect this.

With our new City Administrator Aaron Reeves in place, it was time to do the same with our Police Chief. Moving forward I hope everyone will support this decision and Jeff for the benefit and betterment of our community.”

 

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