The chief of Duluth Police Mike Tusken has jumped to the defense of his fellow police chief and former partner Steve Stracek, who has been placed on leave while allegations of misconduct against him are investigated.
Stracek, the chief of Cloquet Police, was placed on leave this past Thursday during an emergency meeting of the city council, the Pine Journal reports, after a discussion about allegations of "law enforcement personnel misconduct."
The details of the allegations have not been revealed, but the newspaper learned that it came after a complaint was filed against Stracek by the Teamsters General Local Union No. 346, which represents Cloquet police officers.
Stracek was at the Duluth Police Department for 21 years before joining Cloquet as chief in 2014 and served in Duluth at the same time as Tusken.
On Saturday, the Duluth chief voiced his support for his former colleague in a Facebook post.
"I have known Chief Stracek for 25 years and his character has been above reproach," he wrote. "He is a kind, caring, ethical and selfless cop, friend, father, husband and neighbor."
"I know his passion for policing and tireless commitment to public safety," he added. "He knows and is guided by best practices and holds accountable both himself and those who work with him to high ethical and professional standards. Those of us who have worked with Steve regard him as the best of the best."
Tusken asked that the Cloquet community await the outcome of the investigation before "passing judgment on a man revered over his lifetime for exemplifying good character."
The Duluth News Tribune reports that the City of Cloquet has investigated a police officer for misconduct before, voting to terminate the employment of patrol officer Jeff Palmer in 2009 after accusations of having a sexual relationship with a witness in a case in which he was a lead investigator.
The firing was reversed after an arbitrator deemed the punishment too harsh. The now Sgt. Palmer, coincidentally, has been named the interim police chief while Stracek is investigated, the newspaper notes.