Inver Grove Heights and Police Chief Stanger part ways


Larry Stanger

Lt. Sean Folmar to continue as acting chief

At the Dec. 12 meeting, the Inver Grove Heights City Council unanimously approved a separation agreement with Police Chief Larry Stanger. 

Stanger has been on paid administrative leave since April 2016. He joined the department in 1989 and was promoted to police chief in 2012.

Stanger was placed on leave after he allegedly provided information to the subject of a search warrant, alerting the person that the warrant would be executed. However, Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar said there was not enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

During a closed executive session on Aug. 22, the Inver Grove Heights City Council directed city administration to begin an internal investigation on Stanger. The council discussed the preliminary consideration of allegations against Stanger during another closed session at its Nov. 28 council meeting. 

City Attorney Tim Kuntz said that under the agreement, Stanger resigns his position as police chief and his employment with the city. However, the resignation becomes effective April 30, 2017. 

Joe Lynch, city administrator, explained he thinks that Stanger wanted utilize and be paid the outstanding amount of his accrued personal leave and vacation time. 

“I think the second issue is the police retirement age factor plus years of service changed, and so he’s trying to reach a certain date to reach that timeframe,” Lynch said. 

Stanger could not be reached for comment for this story.

Between Dec. 12 and Jan. 2, Stanger will remain on paid leave of absence. From Jan. 3 through April 30, 2017, Stanger will be on unpaid leave “during which time he will use his already earned and accrued vacation and personal leave to carry him through until April 30, 2017,” Kuntz said.  

Kuntz said during the unpaid portion of his leave, Stanger will continue to accrue vacation and personal leave. When his employment ceases with the city on April 30, Stanger will be paid for any remaining unused accruals of vacation and personal leave. 

The separation agreement also includes details of medical insurance, wage rate, holidays and release of claims.

Regarding employee data privacy, Kuntz said there was a limited amount of information that the city was permitted to release. He confirmed there was an investigation by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office into the allegations against Stanger. The report became public when the investigation was completed. 

Inver Grove Heights was conducting its own internal investigation into whether any city policies or procedures were violated.

“That report, the so-called city’s report, will become public data 15 days after [Dec. 12],” Kuntz said.

The 15 days are a rescission period required by state law and during that time the city or Stanger can rescind the agreement. 

Once the 15 days expires, that report becomes public data. 

The recommendation was for the council to approve the separation agreement. Stanger had already signed the agreement prior to the council meeting.

Council member Paul Hark asked if Stanger would have access to city email accounts or any police department systems during the unpaid portion of his leave. Kuntz said Stanger would not have access to any of this, adding that his email and computer system privileges had already been taken away.

In the portion of the agreement relating to unpaid leave, Stanger will not be allowed to perform any police duties during that time for the city.

Mayor George Tourville said he knows that Inver Grove Heights residents have been asking questions about Stanger and wondering why he has been on leave, but there was a process the city had to follow. 

He read a prepared statement at the end of the meeting. It said, “The city council took time to consider and follow the criminal and civil processes so that the rights of those parties involved were not violated. Due to the length of time of this process, it was in the best interest of all parties involved to reach a mutual agreement.”

 

Hiring process

Lt. Sean Folmar will continue in the role of interim police chief until the council members determine what they want to do about the chief’s position. Folmar has been acting interim chief since April 16. 

Lynch said the council could go through the process of posting the job, conducting interviews and offering the position to the best candidate. Another option would be soliciting applications from members of the police department who are qualified for the chief’s job and then only interviewing internal candidates. 

Lynch said the council members “haven’t had those discussion yet” on which path to take.

Lynch added that the statement read by Tourville also mentioned that the “protection of lives and property is paramount to the city,” and he said the police force and city officials take that seriously.

“Through Interim Chief Folmar’s leadership and direction that will continue to be what’s done with our police department,”

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

 

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