Veteran Cloquet Officer Named New Police Chief

After serving many roles including Commander and Interim Police Chief, Derek Randall is the new top cop.

CLOQUET, Minn.-. The Cloquet Police Department now has a new Police Chief.

After a nine month search interviewing candidates from across the country, it is the former Commander and Interim Chief Derek Randall who is shedding the “interim” from his title and stepping into the top role.

“It’s a breath of relief for sure,” Randall said. Cloquet City Council voted Randall Chief Tuesday night.

He is now the fourth Chief on the force since Jeff Palmer resigned his position in 2019. Before him it was Steve Stracek who agreed to retire as chief with no wrongdoing after a vote of “no confidence” by his officers; before that it was Wade Lamirande who retired as Chief.

“It’s nice to have an added layer of I think stability, and I think the Department feels a little bit of relief,” said Chief Randall.

While searching for a new top cop, the Cloquet Police Force is the smallest it’s been in years with only 19 officers on staff out of the full 24.

Those current officers are fresh, so along with recruitment to backfill the positions, Randall is hoping to solidify their relationship with the city.

“For a lot of people in our community when they see our Department, they probably don’t recognize half of the employees here,” said the new chief.

“I want to rebrand. So updating our mission statement, defining our core values and just establishing who we are, why we do this job, and what purpose we serve,” he said.

Randall has been on the force for 19 years. But his emergence as Chief comes at a controversial time for police across the country — as tensions mount after the death of George Floyd in the hands of four Minneapolis Police Officers, who have all been criminally charged.

“When I first saw the George Floyd video, absolutely broke my heart,” Randall said. “We know that the relationships with Law Enforcement has been strained with other events in the past.”

A peaceful protest is planned in Cloquet at Pinehurst Park, and Randall said he’s working to contact the organizer to find out how he and his officers can help, and participate, as they protest against police brutality and for police accountability.

The new chief said he’s also been sitting down with his officers, talking through how they approach different situations, and what actions are right and wrong.

Now more than ever, he says, it’s important that Cloquet’s citizens know and trust their officers.

“The authority that’s given to us is given to us by our community and buy our citizens and we need to be cognizant of that and we need to make sure that we are acting appropriately,” said Chief Randall. “And we also need to let people know in our community that they can trust us.”

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