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Red Wing police chief fired in controversial City Council vote

Chief Roger Pohlman served in his role for eight years.
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."

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