Cloquet Police Chief Resigns After 4-Month Voluntary Leave; City Admin. To Exit In Sept.

CLOQUET, Minn. – It’s over and out for Cloquet Police Chief Jeff Palmer who has chosen to leave the department – making him the third chief to do just that since Wade Lamirande in 2014.

Cloquet City Administrator Aaron Reeves said Palmer was not being investigated for any complaints while he was on leave for the past four months leading up to his resignation Thursday.

Palmer declined to comment about his departure.

And as the city moves forward in a search for a new police chief, they’ll need to start looking for a new city administrator because Reeves is leaving as well, as FOX 21’s Dan Hanger reports.

“Those members of the community that have maybe 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,” Palmer said during an interview with FOX 21 in 2017 when he accepted the promotion as chief.

That was before the 16-year veteran at the time would go quiet in April 2019 with a voluntary paid leave, which would eventually turn into a resignation Aug. 8.

During the leave, Palmer used his accrued vacation and sick time, according to Reeves.

“Right now, with me in charge for the last few months and in the near future, we are in good hands. We actually are doing very well, said Carey Farrell, acting chief and commander who has been on the force for 26 years.

Ferrell believes it’s time to turn to the next chapter for the force.

“You know, the past is the past, we need to move forward. Let’s not keep bring it up, let’s move forward and look on the future and not dwell on the past. That’s the biggest thing we have to do.

Ferrell says he’ll be applying for the position as chief with a focus on transparency and building better relationships and trust with the community like at the recent National Night Out.

Commander Derek Randall, an 18-year veteran of the force, also plans to apply for the position of chief.

Meanwhile, as the city prepares its search for a new chief, City Administrator Aaron Reeves is preparing to leave his position in September to be closer to the Twin Cities. He will be taking on the same position as city administrator in Hudson, Wisconsin.

“While my time here has had some controversy involved it, it’s all been positive because it’s all been trying to move the city forward.  Everybody involved has been focused on what’s the best interest of the city, what do we need to do to kind of keep things moving forward positively,” Reeves said.

Reeves acknowledges it’s not ideal to have two top city positions open at once, but he believes timing may just work out great to hire a new chief, in particular, because a $48,800 top-to- bottom study of the police department by an outside firm will be complete at the end of the month that addresses operations, possible inefficiencies and morale issues, among other topics.

“It actually works out well in that sense where we will have a good plan for the new person coming in – that they’ll know what’s expected of them, they’ll know what the council’s expectations are of the chief of the department,” Reeves said.

That new chief will have some decent pressure to do well.

You’ll recall before Chief Palmer, it was Steve Stacek who agreed to retire as chief with no wrongdoing after a vote of no confidence by his officers.

And before that, it was Wade Lamirande who retired as chief but most recently accused Palmer of mishandling his complaint filed in 2017 involving harassing phone calls from Cloquet police officers.

Those allegations were not substantiated after an outside investigation.

And separately, 18-year-veteran officer Scott Beckman and 22-year veteran officer Scott Holman were both fired this year for separate allegations of misconduct and being labeled so-called Brady cops by Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola.

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