Royalton City Council on Tuesday approved, by a 3-2 vote, moving the position of police chief from part-time to full-time and adding another part-time police officer. The motion was moved by Council Member Tony Cimenski, seconded by Kurt Schott and Mayor Brenda Weiss-Pesta voted “yes”. Council members Ron Verley and Jeff Gerads voted “no”.
Before Cimenski introduced the motion, Verley had moved, seconded by Gerads, to retain the post of police chief on a part-time basis and hire a full-time police officer. The motion failed as Cimenski, Schott and Pesta voted “no”.
The city will begin filling the full-time police chief position in 30 days. Current Chief of Police Lindsay Bruyere will have the option of applying for the position of full-time chief of police or for the position of part-time constable.
A discussion regarding staffing at the Royalton Police Department began in October 2021, after residents and business owners told council members they rarely saw Bruyere present in the community and wanted see a greater police presence in the city, Pesta said.
However, the Board chose to suspend hiring or make changes to established positions until the city resolved a complaint it had received against Bruyère. The complaint alleged that Bruyère falsified the hours worked on his time cards.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Verley said he stood by what he said at the special council meeting, held on Thursday, April 28, to discuss the police department and personnel policy. .
“What I want to do about police staffing is ask Lindsay what he needs to run his department and let him run his department,” Verley said at the special board meeting. .
Verley was also in favor of keeping the post of chief of police part-time and hiring a full-time officer.
At the special council meeting, Cimenski asked if anyone was going to be employed full-time, why not be the chief.
“He’s the guy who’s ‘on the ground’ and directs everything, directs all the interference between the people and the Council, controls everything and is responsible for it. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be the full time guy. Obviously the chef gets paid more, but you also take on the responsibilities, don’t you,” Cimenski said.
Verley said one of the reasons for his stance to keep the part-time chief and hire a new full-time officer was the difference in pay and he ultimately wanted to save the city money. .
At Tuesday’s regular meeting, Verley alleged that the motion to change the police chief’s position from part-time to full-time was a firing of Bruyere. He based this on the fact that Bruyere works full-time as a corrections officer for the Minnesota Department of Corrections at St. Cloud Correctional Facility, and knowing that Bruyere would not give up his full-time job. time to work full time in Royalton.
Pesta said it’s not in the city’s interest to base a decision on having a full-time chef on whether or not a specific person can make it work with their other job.
“If we’re basing it on that, then we’re basing it more on working around someone’s schedule than what’s best for the city,” she said.
Verley also said he believed the decision to move to a full-time chief would not have been made without a petition received by the Council on April 5.
The petition read: “As in any small town, it is the community that makes the village. Having a vital part of our village that is not part of the community only erodes/stagnates the potential for prosperity of our city. The municipal council is elected by the members of our community and therefore acts on our behalf. Members of our community believe that there has been a breach of trust with Mr. Bruyère and our municipal funds, as well as a trend over the past few years of less community involvement between the Chief and the community as a whole. We believe the City Council should take steps to restore the trust and connection we once had in our police service. Due to the lack of trust and community involvement demonstrated by Police Chief Bruyere, we are calling for his dismissal from the Royalton Police Department.
The petition had 54 signatures from business owners, managers and residents.
Pesta said this was clearly not a dismissal of Bruyere, as discussion of appointing a full-time police chief began last year but was put on hold. Bruyère also has the opportunity to apply for available positions.
Regarding the allegation that Bruyère falsified the hours worked on his time cards, the complaint was made to former Mayor Andrea Lauer and Verley on May 8, 2021. However, the rest of Council (Pesta, Gerads and Schott) was not made aware of the complaint until July 8, 2021, Pesta said.
Two days before, on July 6, 2021, Verley, who was the liaison officer for the police department and who completed Bruyère’s performance review, told the Board that it was a positive review. . Accordingly, the Board approved Bruyère’s performance evaluation.
After seeking advice from City Attorney Sue Dege, the city hired Soldo Consulting Group in late October 2021 to investigate the complaint. The Board received the Soldo Consulting Group investigation report several months later and held a special Board meeting on March 15 to discuss the findings. At Bruyere’s request, the meeting was closed to the public, pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13D.05 Subdivision 2.
The closed meeting was opened to the public after approximately 50 minutes. At that time, Council said the city’s corrective action regarding the complaint and the findings of the investigation was to place a written warning in Bruyère’s personnel file.
The Morrison County Record recently submitted a public data request to the city. Although the Record received a small portion of the request that was made, not everything had been received at the time of publication.
Although the city did not budget for a full-time police chief position, it did provide for a full-time police officer position. Since no one has been hired, this part of the budget has not been affected.
Looking at the calendar for the next few months with the posting of the position, the receipt of applications and the interviewing of candidates, it could be well into July before anything changes. Bruyère will remain acting chief.
Memoirs of Royalton City Council
In other business Tuesday, Royalton City Council:
• Was informed that the city has received three offers for the 2003 Ford F-150 for sale. The Council accepted the highest bid of $1,400, made by Brian Gottwalt;
• Was informed that the city has received an offer for the 2003 Dodge Dakota that the city is selling. Council accepted the $500 offer made by Renee McDougall;
• Accepted the resignation of Travis Blais as Assistant Fire Chief. Since the deputy fire chief is usually next in line to become fire chief, Blais said he doesn’t have time to fulfill those responsibilities with what’s going on in his personal and professional life. However, Blais will continue to serve as a firefighter;
• Approved Tom Quinlan as the new Deputy Fire Chief;
• Approved for the Royalton Lions Club to keep a storage container on municipal property, located at 17430 and 17434 Hwy. 10 NW to Royalton. The storage container will house various items needed for events held throughout the city;
• Set a public hearing for Tuesday, June 7 at 7:15 p.m. regarding adding more language to Order No. 3, which includes parking restrictions;
• Approved performance review and exit forms for municipal employees; and
• Was reminded that the Town Hall office will be closed from May 9th to 13th.
The next regular Royalton City Council meeting will be Tuesday, June 7 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.