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More details on sting that caught Robbinsdale police chief

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Investigators are releasing new information on the prostitution sting that led to the arrest of the former Robbinsdale police chief.

Former police chief Steven Smith was one of 11 people arrested Feb. 20 in a sting staged at a Coon Rapids apartment. Smith resigned as the police chief on Saturday, and he was charged Monday in Anoka County District Court.

A Coon Rapids detective placed a sexually suggestive ad under the “Escorts” section of BackPage.com last month as part of an undercover operation targeting human trafficking, ABC Newspapers reports. The ad included rates for services as well as a contact number, which was for an undercover police cell phone.

According to the report, Smith and 10 other men were arrested separately after calling or texting the cell phone and arriving at the Coon Rapids apartment, thinking they were going to meet with a prostitute, according to the newspaper. Smith was put in handcuffs and taken to the Anoka County Jail to be fingerprinted and photographed. He was cited for general prostitution crimes, which are misdemeanors.

Monday, Coon Rapids police released photos of a text message conversation, allegedly between Smith and the undercover officer posing as a prostitute, which included discussion of specific sex acts and payment, ABC Newspapers reports.

The fact that Smith didn't resign for a month after his arrest has raised questions. But Coon Rapids Police Chief Brad Wise said Monday that none of the officers who arrested Smith recognized him as a police officer, and Smith did not volunteer that information, FOX 9 reports.

It wasn't until last Wednesday that the connection was made, Wise said, when an employee of the Coon Rapids Police Department was preparing case documents and recognized Smith from his photograph, according to FOX 9.

“Law enforcement agencies generally do not make it a practice to track down employers to notify them of an employee’s arrest unless it is done to protect the public from potential danger,” Wise said in a statement Monday.

Smith's sudden resignation on Saturday came as a surprise to Robbinsdale city leaders, who only learned of the arrest over the weekend. Mayor Regan Murphy said the news came as a complete shock.

Capt. Jim Franzen has been named the interim chief of police, and he told Fox 9 he knows the arrest has shaken the public's trust in the department.

"We do have a cloud over our heads," Franzen said.

Some police departments have a policy that requires its officers to report their own arrest. Mayor Murphy said he’s not aware of any such policy in Robbinsdale, WCCO reports. He said they will review the case to determine if any action is needed.

The Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board said standard licensing requirements give officers 90 days to report an offense to the agency they work for, FOX 9 reports.

Smith was scheduled to be in court on Monday, but his attorney filed a continuance. He is expected to return to court in May.

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