Crosslake police chief to retire after 30-year career
Sergeant to take over as chief in July
CROSSLAKE — Crosslake Police Chief Erik Lee will retire July 13, and Sgt. Jake Maier will take over as chief.
That follows Crosslake City Council action taken at a special meeting Monday, April 24. The council accepted Lee’s retirement letter and, after discussion, appointed Maier as the city’s next chief.
When he retires, Lee will have had a 30-year law enforcement career, including 26½ years with the Crosslake Police Department as an officer, sergeant and chief.
“I’m just going to relax and spend more time with family and not be as under the gun as I’ve been for the last 30 years,” Lee, 57, said by phone Monday.
In his resignation letter, he wrote: “I anxiously look forward to the next chapter of (wife) Kathy’s and my life. Words will never be able to express the appreciation I have for the citizens of Crosslake, my co-workers and city councils.”
Lee started his career with the Breezy Point Police Department in July 1993, working part time and then full time. He worked for the Crosby Police Department too, before being hired as a Crosslake officer in November 1996.
He was appointed sergeant in September 1999, and chief in June 2017.
Lee noted two highlights of his career.
“The biggest is developing the great team of officers, and second would be finally getting us into a police department instead of a police room, where we actually felt like we had a department,” he said by phone. “Now we have a secure facility that’s going to be around for decades to come.”
City administration and police moved to their new building nearly three years ago.
Lee will stay in the area working part time somewhere.
“It’s been an identity. By that time it will be 30 years. That’s going to be a tough thing,” he said of leaving law enforcement.
All four Crosslake police officers — Bobby Willard, Tony Marks, Cody Haines and Patrick Martin — signed a letter to the council recommending Maier’s promotion to police chief.
Maier has been with the department since 2007 and was promoted to sergeant in September 2021.
With the personnel we have now, we have an excellent opportunity with a succession plan for decades to come. We have hired and promoted excellent officers who have a deep interest in staying with the city of Crosslake.
Lee wrote his own letter of reference for Maier as well, urging the council to promote from within.
“With the personnel we have now, we have an excellent opportunity with a succession plan for decades to come,” Lee wrote. “We have hired and promoted excellent officers who have a deep interest in staying with the city of Crosslake.”
Even so, Lee had to plead his case a bit when Mayor Dave Nevin said it’s been city policy when hiring a department leader to open the application process to both internal and external candidates.
Council member Marcia Seibert-Volz agreed.
Council member Aaron Herzog disagreed, saying the council heard from officers and the chief and should move forward with their recommendation. That would save the council time and money, as well as the chance to provide training, he said.
It would also maintain staff, Herzog said.
Lee stepped up and said of promoting from within the department: “What we’re telling the people within the department and what we’re telling the people within the city is if you work hard, there are chances for you.”
He added: “If a position opens, don’t look at officers and say, ‘We can find someone else.’ That’s what you're saying.
“You’ve got someone who’s worked his butt off to gain the knowledge and the experience to gain the next level,” Lee said.
Lee talked about a succession plan, where supervisors prepare employees for the next step.
“What you’re saying is, ‘You haven't done your job. We don’t care about morale,’” he said, calling out Nevin and Seibert-Volz for showing a lack of support.
“Don’t fiddle fart around and go outside and look around,” Lee said. “Do the right thing. Make it happen. Get it off your plate and move on to other things …”
The vote to promote Maier to chief was unanimous.
Asked his opinion on the resulting open sergeant position, Lee said that would be up to the new chief to make a recommendation.
Council member Sandy Farder participated in the meeting online via Zoom for medical reasons.
The council also discussed with City Attorney Brad Persons the enforcement of violations of short-term rentals after a 45-day compliance timeframe allowed by Crow Wing County.
The city attorney and mayor will meet with Crow Wing County officials to clarify parts of the penalty section of the short-term rental ordinance.
Find recordings of Crosslake City Council meetings on the city's YouTube channel.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or email@example.com . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.