Farmington Police Chief Brian Lindquist was dismissed from his job Monday night by the City Council, despite the objections of more than 200 residents who rallied in support of Lindquist.
Many who spoke at the meeting expressed anger and confusion about the lack of reasoning given for Lindquist’s exit. While two council members said legal restrictions prevented them from elaborating, Council Member Katie Bernhjelm cited “past demonstrations of poor leadership” as why he needed to go.
She said Lindquist had missed meetings, failed to communicate and made decisions without consulting the council.
Residents, spilling out into the hallway, told emotional stories of their positive encounters with Lindquist. Several shouted their disapproval over council members.
Others called for the resignation of council members who supported ousting Lindquist, who was chief for 12 years and on the force for 20. Sgt. Gary Rutherford was appointed acting chief on Aug. 1 and will continue in that role.
Out of 24 speakers, just one supported the termination. Justin Giles said he was denied medical care in 2003 for a broken kneecap and a fractured shoulder after Lindquist put him in jail.
“It was not a good encounter,” Giles said, adding that he filed a complaint but never received a response from the city.
Lindquist said he couldn’t remember arresting Giles.
Bernhjelm, who was appointed in April 2017, said she began hearing about issues with the chief shortly after she arrived.
“This decision was entirely preventable had he listened to feedback, shown up or made any effort to take responsibility,” Bernhjelm said.
Bernhjelm said there had been several recent situations that called into question Lindquist’s leadership. She said that he had failed to offer the council any details about why gun cameras were necessary this spring.
Soon after that, he opted out of using the Vitals smartphone application, which provides officers information about vulnerable people during a police crisis, without discussing it with the council, she added.
Lindquist, who lobbied for the hiring of several additional officers after a study showed Farmington was short-staffed, didn’t adequately answer questions about why extra officers were needed, Bernhjelm said.
The council approved a separation agreement with the chief on a 3-2 vote. Council members Bernhjelm, Jason Bartholomay and Robyn Craig voted in favor of the agreement, while Mayor Todd Larson and Council Member Terry Donnelly voted against it.
The agreement includes the sum of $125,770 to be paid to Lindquist in installments. Lindquist’s last day is Friday.
Addressing the crowd, Lindquist said he wasn’t happy about the decision but that he would go on to “the next chapter” in his life.