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Cloquet police chief on voluntary paid leave, reason not disclosed


April 19, 2019

According to city administrator Aaron Reeves, Cloquet police chief Jeff Palmer was placed on “voluntary paid leave” effective Tuesday, April 16. Reeves said he could not elaborate on Palmer’s absence, but said it was unrelated to any investigation of Palmer.

“Because of the nature of this matter the City cannot provide any further comment at this time,” Reeves wrote in an email to the Pine Knot News.

Palmer was appointed interim chief of police when the council placed former police chief Steve Stracek on paid administrative leave in March 2017. Several months after Stracek was exonerated but agreed to retire, Palmer was promoted to permanent police chief in October 2017.

Reeves did clarify that the voluntary paid leave was not a result of the investigation of former Cloquet police chief Wade Lamirande’s complaints about Palmer. The retired chief’s numerous complaints about Palmer largely centered around criticisms of the police department’s handling of a previous complaint filed by Lamirande in October 2017, which the CPD investigated internally and which resulted in no officer discipline.

In a second email, Reeves said he had received the complete investigative report from Michelle Soldo on Chief Palmer last week.

“Based on the findings in the investigative report I took no disciplinary action,” Reeves said.

Reeves and city human resources director James Barclay were both exonerated by the city council of allegations Tuesday — the same day Palmer’s leave began — after the council received the results of Soldo’s investigation of them. Palmer was not present at Tuesday’s council meeting, and there was no discussion of his absence or any leave during the public portion of the meeting, which was closed to discuss the results of the investigation regarding Barclay.

Reeves said he has assigned one of two CPD commanders — Carey Ferrell — to “perform the duties and responsibilities of Chief of Police while Chief of Police Palmer is on voluntary paid leave.”


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