Inver Grove Heights reopens search for police chief

Inver Grove Heights is back on the search for a chief of police after the city’s most recent top cop left. 

Paul Schnell left the post he held for about a year on Jan. 4, after being selected by Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to be commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. 

Janet Shefchik, city human resources manager, explained during the Jan. 7 Inver Grove Heights City Council workshop meeting that the deputy chief, Sean Folmar, automatically assumes the chief’s responsibilities in the absence of a chief.

“That will occur in the short term. In the long term, there are a number of options,” she said. 

The city used a consulting firm to help land Schnell during its last police chief vacancy, and Shefchik said the council could have Springsted Waters honor its triple guarantee since Schnell left prior to the 24 months indicated in the Springsted Waters agreement. 

“We obviously paid the consulting fees. However, if they did [a redo] we would still pay administrative fees, but just not consulting fees,” she said.

Shefchik said she thinks the best thing that came from the previous search process was the community survey, which, having been conducted, probably doesn’t need to be done again. The information from the survey can be used if the council decides to move forward with its own chief selection process.  

She said staff has a great amount of experience conducting recruitment, which she suggested in order to save the city money.

 

Hoping for a quick search

Mayor George Tourville said Folmar as interim chief has already been implemented because of Schnell’s departure date. 

Council member Tom Bartholomew said he sees no reason to change it. Folmar served a year and a half in the same role prior to Schnell’s arrival, after former chief Larry Stanger resigned after being investigated for alleged misconduct.

“I think the interim chief did a great job in the past. I suspect he’ll do as well of a job this time,” Bartholomew said. The council was in agreement to have Folmar serve as interim chief.

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech said she believed the city should use Springsted Waters again for its chief search if the consulting firm could do it more quickly.

“I want this to take place in 30 days,” she said. “This is not a wide thing. We’re not going to go all over the country.”

Tourville said the city received a letter from Law Enforcement Labor Services that said the council should look at internal and external candidates, something with which he said he agreed.

Council member Brenda Dietrich said Springsted Waters did a thorough and in-depth search last time. She added the council would be remiss to not contact some of the prior candidates to see if they are still available, rather than paying more administrative fees. 

“I want the current police department to know we’re very interested about promoting from within, and that we value the talent that is there,” Dietrich said.

The council decided to set a chief application deadline of Jan. 31, and to reach out to Sprinsted Waters to see if it would be available to help. If not, the HR department will find the next chief.

 

–Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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