The Deerwood City Council Monday, June 7, unanimously approved a motion of support for its Police Chief Mark Taylor.
The motion of support was voted on after council members came out of a closed session to what they considered a complaint against their police chief. The alleged complaint stemmed from a letter written by Crow Wing County Sheriff Scott Goddard.
Goddard wrote a May 10 letter to Deerwood Mayor Mike Aulie stating he is restricting access from all sheriff office-controlled buildings for Deerwood Police Department personnel. In the letter, the sheriff cited secret recordings made by Taylor of Crosby law enforcement officers, which surfaced amid a defamation lawsuit, as the reason for the restrictions.
“It is not a decision I take lightly,” Goddard wrote, stating it was necessary after reading the findings of the lawsuit filed by former Crosby Police Officer Jesse Smith against the city of Crosby and the police department’s former top two ranking officers. “I found Chief Taylor’s actions towards retired Chief Kim Coughlin and retired Lt. Kevin Randolph troubling and frankly unacceptable for a person in his position. I cannot consciously allow myself or my staff to be exposed to any surreptitious recordings that Chief Taylor may be conducting.”
Smith filed the civil lawsuit in April 2019 after he was fired twice from his job and subsequently reinstated both times through arbitration before voluntarily resigning from the Crosby Police Department in July 2017. Smith, who also serves as the Cuyuna Police Department chief, was hired as an officer with the Deerwood Police Department in January 2018.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Erik J. Askegaard submitted his ruling a month ago on Smith’s defamation case in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd, dismissing it with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be brought back to court.
The city council issued its statement to media outlets Monday after the meeting. The council stated Taylor’s actions were not only legal, but in the best interest of his own position, the Deerwood Police Department and the city of Deerwood.
The statement also expressed the council’s disappointment with the way the sheriff made the decision, by not contacting Taylor or Aulie directly to air his concerns.
“ ... He entered the County into a tenuous and political situation between the Crosby and Deerwood police departments, a relationship that we see improving with the new leadership in Crosby,” the statement read.
The full story on the Deerwood City Council’s statement will be published in Wednesday’s print and e-edition.