Deerwood officer faces no discipline
DEERWOOD—Deerwood police officer Damien Stalker returned to full-time duty after the city council elected to take no disciplinary action against him Monday.
Stalker was placed on administrative leave earlier this month while a complaint against him was under investigation. Details of the nature of the complaint and the subsequent investigation are not public per state law, because Stalker was not disciplined.
Stalker was first hired part-time in September 2013, when the Deerwood Police Department entered a contract with the city of Ironton to provide police services.
Two weeks before Stalker's administrative leave, the council voted to elevate him from a part-time position to full time. Mayor Mike Aulie said the move was a proactive one, in response to Stalker working enough hours to qualify for union benefits through the city's contract with the Teamsters Local 346, as well as for state laws governing public employment labor relations.
The decision to take no action on the complaint against Stalker was made by the council in closed session Monday, at the end of a special meeting called to address two other police department-related issues. In the same meeting, the council also voted to accept longtime police Chief Harry Gottsch's early retirement agreement, and appointed Sgt. Mark Taylor as interim police chief.
Aulie said the council would seek input from the public on the future of the city's police coverage, including consideration of a regional police district.