Former Duluth Fire Chief Sentenced for DWI, Releases Statement

Former Duluth Fire Chief, Dennis Edwards, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to a third degree DWI charge.

DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth’s former fire chief now knows his sentence for a DWI arrest in March, and he’s speaking out about it for the first time.

Dennis Edwards, a 23-year veteran of the Duluth Fire Department, pleaded guilty in St. Louis County Court Wednesday to a 3rd-Degree DWI.

The former fire chief was sentenced to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, but if he successfully completes two years of probation, Edwards will serve no jail time and will pay a $1,000 fine plus fees.

Edwards released the following statement Wednesday:

“I made a horrible decision to drink and drive. I put lives that I am sworn to protect at risk and for that, I am sincerely sorry, to all of you. It will never happen again.

To the women and men of the Duluth Fire Department, the City of Duluth, Mayor Larson and my colleagues in public safety, I have let you down. It was unacceptable behavior and a violation of public trust. I am truly sorry. I also apologize to my wife and my boys. That night I was not the husband and father that you deserve.

With the strong support of my wife, family, and friends, I have sought counseling and abstained from alcohol. I am committed to making amends and being a person who earns your respect.”

Edwards was pulled over around midnight on Mar. 30 after a deputy observed an SUV attempting to pass a vehicle in a no-passing zone.

Authorities then found Edwards to have a blood-alcohol content almost three times the legal limit at .22.

He has since resigned as fire chief and took a demotion to assistant chief, per union contract.

No decision has yet been made about his driver’s license status, which he would need to serve as assistant chief.

We’re told the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will determine if Edwards gets a license suspension or other restrictions.

Edwards was appointed fire chief in 2016 by Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.

FOX 21 has repeatedly requested comment from Larson since Edwards’ arrest, which have been denied.

When we asked after sentencing Wednesday if Larson would make a statement for the first time, the Mayor’s spokesperson, Kate Van Daele, responded with a one-word answer, “No.”

Mayor Larson’s office told us last week there are no immediate plans to permanently fill the fire chief position.

Deputy Chief Shawn Krizaj, a 21-year veteran of the department, remains the interim chief.

It’s also not known if or when Edwards will return to work as assistant chief. He’s currently using his earned paid time off.

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