Farmington residents react angrily to decision to fire popular police chief

Several spoke out against the decision at a meeting Monday.
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More than 300 residents of Farmington made their voices heard over the city's decision to fire its popular police chief.

Farmington City Council voted 3-2 in favor of a separation agreement with Police Chief Brian Lindquist, ending the 52-year-old's 12-year tenure in the city.

It sparked heated scenes at the meeting on Monday evening, with Lindquist himself arriving to a standing ovation about 35 minutes into this video to help calm the scenes and thank residents for their support.

"I'm not happy about the decision and I know you aren't either, but I ask you not to go down the road that your emotions are going to lead you," Lindquist said.

"I can't begin to thank everybody who has supported me ... I'm a public servant, I serve you, I have always enjoyed serving you for 20 years.

"They have made their decision, I'm going to abide by it ... you have 23 men and women here and three full-time admin staff that keep 23,000 people safe and they will come when you dial 911 whether I am here or not."

Community members took turns to speak at the meeting, criticizing the council over their lack of transparency over the move to oust Lindquist, and offered their support for a popular chief who has kept them safe for more than a decade.

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Local resident Leon Orr said: "You're not the city, this is the city right here [gesturing to the crowd].

"As our representatives, as elected people and staff of this city, you are to do the job for us and listen to us, and I don't think that's happening and I'm especially disturbed how we got to this point by a quorum of three who are asking for the separation ... without any public meetings or public information put out."

The 3-2 vote was met with groans, with Mayor Todd Larson one of two voting against it, saying he was "strongly no."

Why is he being fired?

Ultimately the three council members who voted in favor of dismissal – Robyn Craig, Katie Bernhjelm and Jason Bartholomay – were restricted in what they could say, but did note there was poor communication between the city and police department.

Craig, speaking to shouts from those in attendance, said that the council had been discussing "concerns" it had with Lindquist for over a year, and the city had explained to the chief that he needed to reach out to them to discuss these issues.

"Unfortunately the relationship continued to deteriorate and a difficult decision had to be made," Craig said.

Bernhjelm said that she had observed a different reaction from some community members about Lindquist.

"I joined the council in April 2017 and it didn't take long to start hearing about grievances with the police chief," she said. "There seems to have been past demonstrations of poor leadership that led others to question his ability to fulfill his role."

Lindquist's last day as police chief will be this Friday.

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