Red Wing police chief fired in controversial City Council vote

Chief Roger Pohlman served in his role for eight years.
Publish date:
Chief Roger Pohlman

An ongoing conflict between Red Wing's city council and its police chief has resulted in the firing of the town's top law enforcement official.

On Friday, the council voted to terminate Chief Roger Pohlman, who had served the city in that role for eight years.

According to a letter from the city council to Pohlman, which has now circulated among a number of news outlets, the move was a "disciplinary action" over the chief's alleged failure to meet "performance expectations."

The council cites a "lack of trust," failure to support city initiatives, and Pohlman's alleged portrayal of council members as "anti-police," among other complaints. 

As the Star Tribune reports, the vote to fire Pohlman was 6-1, with the lone holdout, Councilman Kim Beise, saying he couldn't support the move because the council "did not give Pohlman a chance to address alleged shortcomings."

Red Wing Mayor Mike Wilson echoed this, telling the paper he believes it was a "mistake" to fire Pohlman.

The firing comes a week after the council placed Pohlman on leave for unspecified reasons; however, as the Republican Eagle noted at the time, the conflict arose from issues such as "social justice and community policing" in the wake of George Floyd's death. 

FOX 9 notes that Pohlman released a statement following his termination, saying the council had decided, "in secret and behind closed doors," to "move in a different direction" with the city's police department, and gave him the option to resign and retain some benefits.

"My oath of office to the community and Police Department is not completed, therefore resignation was not an option," Pohlman said, per FOX 9. 

Prior to Friday's vote, a number of community members expressed support for the chief, with a letter to the editor of a local news site calling Pohlman "a true public servant and a great police chief" and accusing the council of "micromanage police affairs."

Also weighing in was state Rep. Barb Haley of Red Wing. In a letter to the city council last week, she criticized the body for placing Pohlman on leave without a "clear explanation of why (the decision) was made."  

She also defended Pohlman's record and character, calling him a "fair, honest, professional, and committed public servant."

A public Facebook group has also sprung up in the wake of the controversy, titled "I stand with Chief of Police Roger Pohlman."

Next Up

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Man killed in early morning crash on Minneapolis' Cedar Avenue

Minneapolis police responded to the crash at 2600 Cedar Avenue South early Friday morning.


2 killed in separate incidents in Minneapolis hours apart Thursday

One man was killed in a triple shooting, the other fatally stabbed in an apparent domestic incident.

duluth police department

'Dangerous situation' in Duluth, public asked to stay away after suspect kills K9

It started on Thursday evening and has continued into Friday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher basketball

Gophers offense disappears in loss to Northwestern

The Gophers are quickly falling out of NCAA tournament contention.

Malik Beasley

Timberwolves Malik Beasley suspended 12 games for offseason incident

Beasley was sentenced to 120 days in jail earlier this month.

Russell Wilson

Vikings fans should REALLY hope Russell Wilson doesn't go to the Bears

Wilson has a 6-0 record against Minnesota and could be on his way to the NFC North.


Celebrated Minnesota musician Peter Ostroushko dies

Ostroushko, who learned his craft in the Ukrainian community of Northeast Minneapolis, had a versatile career including performances with popular artists and orchestras


Costco will bump its minimum wage to $16 next week

The company, which has 12 stores in Minnesota, is pushing ahead of retailers Target and Amazon with its new minimum wage

Seth Green/Gopher Football

Gophers wildcat QB Seth Green announces decision to transfer

Green will have immediate eligibility as a graduate transfer.

Minneapolis skyline

Minneapolis pays 3 times more than it receives in state funds, new report says

This report comes as state lawmakers are debating proposals opponents say would "bail out" the state's largest city.


Red Wing Fire Chief Shannon Draper.

Red Wing fire chief lacks 'ability and temperament' for job, firefighters say

Local firefighters have unanimously voted on a "No Confidence" resolution.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Mpls council proposal would cut nearly $8M from 2021 police budget

The "Safety for All Budget Plan" was introduced Friday.

Red Wing mourns after unexpected death of former fire chief

Tom Schneider died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 55.

Screen Shot 2020-11-08 at 2.47.24 PM

Lisa Bender, Minneapolis City Council president, will not seek reelection

She was a major force in the "dismantle the police" movement.

Defund the police

Lack of detail hampers Minneapolis City Council's police messaging

The council has lofty goals, but the devil will be in the detail.