Pequot Lakes police officer Ryan Franz was promoted to sergeant effective Wednesday, June 3.
The city council authorized the promotion on a 3-1 vote at its regular meeting Tuesday, June 2. Council member Mimi Swanson cast the dissenting vote, saying she believed another candidate was more qualified for the job. Council member Scott Pederson wasn’t present June 2.
Swanson said she had concerns about the interview process and the choice. She wanted another discussion regarding the reason to hire Franz over fellow officer and interim Sgt. Kate Petersen.
“I think we need to re-evaluate our choice,” Swanson said.
City Administrator Nancy Malecha said five applicants were interviewed. The interview panel included Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang, Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted, Pequot Lakes Public Works Director Jason Gorr and Malecha.
“Unless there’s something real flagrant we’re looking at, the council doesn’t have any business second-guessing Eric or Nancy,” council member Jerry Akerson said. ““I think we should trust their judgement and move on with this thing. We’re paying top-notch for our management. We’ve got to trust them.”
Swanson replied: “I just think maybe a mistake was made by choosing the present candidate and I think we need to examine another candidate more closely, consider that candidate more closely.”
Akerson said he’d pull his motion to hire Franz if that was the council consensus, but council member Cheri Seils and Mayor James Tayloe both said they trusted the interview panel’s judgment.
After the vote to hire Franz, Klang thanked the council for their confidence in him. Swanson said her confidence hadn’t dwindled in Klang and she appreciated him.
Petersen had served as interim sergeant since December, after former Sgt. Chad Turcotte took a leave of absence for back issues. Turcotte resigned in February, and the council authorized the hiring process for the sergeant position.
Franz, who is a paramedic and served as Pequot Lakes School police liaison, has been a police officer with the city since September 2016. He graduated from Brainerd High School and received an Associate of Applied Science in paramedicine in 2006 from St. Cloud Technical and Community College. He received a criminal justice certificate from Central Lakes College in Brainerd and worked as a part-time officer in Deerwood for three and a half years before joining the Pequot Lakes Police Department.
He will earn $25.65 per hour, or around $53,000 per year, as sergeant.
In other public safety news, in April, police had 155 calls for service and firefighters had 16 calls. Fire calls included several grass fires and a mutual aid structure fire.
The city council conducted its regular June meeting online via Zoom. Tayloe, Seils, Malecha, City Clerk/Treasurer Angie Duus and City Engineer Tim Houle, with Widseth engineering firm, were present at city hall.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.