Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Hawley welcomes new chief amid controversy

HAWLEY, Minn. - City officials here selected a new police chief Monday despite dissension from community members who hoped the current interim chief would be tapped for the job.

HAWLEY, Minn. – City officials here selected a new police chief Monday despite dissension from community members who hoped the current interim chief would be tapped for the job.

Joe Backlund, currently a sergeant with the police force in Princeton, verbally accepted the job Monday after the City Council voted 4-1 to hire him.

Backlund said he will start his job overseeing three full-time officers and a handful of part-time officers Aug. 10.

Hawley Mayor Gary Johnson said the decision was one of the most difficult he's seen in his more than six years with the city.

"It was very, very close in the decision," Johnson said. "I just thought he would be a wonderful fit for our community and our police department."

ADVERTISEMENT

A native of Big Lake, Backlund says his appreciation for small towns attracted him to the job.

Backlund started his career in law enforcement more than two decades ago as a part-time officer with the police department in Foley. He began working full time in Princeton in 1996.

Backlund said his most immediate plans are to introduce himself to community members.

"I just want to get to know the community (and) start meeting the business owners," he said.

In addition to administrative duties, the chief is required to patrol, which is another aspect of the job that Backlund says drew him in.

The mayor said Backlund was offered about $67,000.

The selection process spurred controversy among Hawley residents who had hoped two-time interim Chief Scott Steer would be chosen. Steer was one of five applicants interviewed for the job, but wasn't among the two finalists.

City Councilman Sean Mork, who voted to hire Backlund, said all applicants had a fair shot at the job.

ADVERTISEMENT

"With Scott I mean I work with him on a consistent basis daily, and I feel that he was an excellent candidate," Mork said. "He had an interview just like the ... other candidates that showed up."

Backlund said he knew the chief position was a point of contention in the city and that he's glad the community supports the police department.

"I understand their concerns. If I was a community member, I'd probably do the same thing," Backlund said.

Johnson said he isn't sure whether the discord over the chief position will end now that it is filled, but that he believes the community will welcome Backlund.

Related Topics: POLICECRIME
What To Read Next
Host Bryan Piatt is joined by Matt Entz, head coach of the North Dakota State Bison football team, to discuss the pressures of leading the program and how mental health is addressed with his players.
Artificial intelligence can now act as an artist or a writer. Does that mean AI is ready to play doctor? Many institutions, including Mayo Clinic, believe that AI is ready to become a useful tool.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack lists the various reason why some older adults may begin to shuffle as they age.
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football in January is urging people to learn how to save lives the way his was saved.