Embattled Iron Range police chief steps downVirginia City Council members met Friday night to accept the retirement of Police Chief Dana Waldron. The city will pay the embattled chief $130,000 in severance and about $25,000 in earned benefits.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
This time, Charlie Baribeau thinks the city of Virginia’s agreement with its police chief will stick.
Baribeau met with his fellow City Council members Friday night to accept the retirement of Police Chief Dana Waldron. The city will pay the embattled chief $130,000 in severance and about $25,000 in earned benefits.
“It’s the best thing that could happen,” Baribeau said of the agreement, the third negotiation the city has had with Waldron to leave since grievances were filed against him in late 2010 over his management of the department and relationships with city employees and administration.
“I think this one will be fine,” Baribeau said. “He signed it.”
Per union rules, Waldron will have 15 days to rescind the mediated separation agreement. According to Waldron, this is the end of his battle with the city.
“It’s time to move on,” he told the News Tribune. The 58-year-old has no immediate plans but will stay in the area, he said. His last day will be May 25.
The city entered into a mediation session Friday morning and it lasted most of the day. The council planned a meeting for 5:30 with the expectation that an agreement would be reached.
Baribeau said that if the city had fought Waldron for a smaller severance package, the costs would have made the effort to save money moot.
“I think everyone was just tired,” he said. “The legal fees would have eaten up whatever lesser amount we would have received.”
Under the agreement, neither party can make disparaging remarks about the other, Baribeau said, and Waldron can’t apply for any other city positions.
Waldron worked for the Virginia Police Department for 33 years.
In 2010, a grievance was filed against him. Police officers made a statement of “no confidence” in his leadership. On Jan. 25, 2011, the city put Waldron on paid administrative leave while it investigated 16 charges.
He was facing the Police Civil Service Commission in June before settlement negotiations delayed a trial. The settlement talks eventually broke down and the trial resumed.
The city offered Waldron another severance, $60,000, in July and he accepted it until changing his mind.
Waldron was eventually found guilty on four of the 16 charges but the commission said none of them rose to the level of removing him from the job.
Disappointed with the decision, along with what some considered conflicts of interest, the city council disbanded the three-person commission last fall.
This past January, the city suspended Waldron for three days after finding out about a scheduling disagreement and subsequent harassment charges between the chief and a detective.
The League of Minnesota Cities helped the city in the latest mediation. It also agreed to pay $32,000 of the severance, leaving the city with the remaining $98,000.