The city police are coming back to Foley.

The Foley City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to re-establish a police department after city residents and state officials balked at the council's plan to use private security officers to patrol local streets.

The city had contracted with Benton County for deputies to patrol city streets since disbanding its police in 2003. But negotiations with the county fell apart last fall and the contract ended in December, leaving the city without police services for the past two months. County sheriff's deputies, however, continue to respond to emergency calls.

Council Member Bruce Thompson said residents have come out in force to let city officials know that they want licensed police officers back on the street. "They said they're willing to pay for it," he said.

Mayor Gary Gruba voted against starting up the department again. "I don't feel it's the right thing to do for the city," he said. "I was there when we abolished it, and I knew the struggles we had then and I felt like I didn't want to go back into that," he said, declining to detail the struggles.

But with the council vote on Tuesday, Gruba said, "I will support whatever we can do to make this work for the city. I'm not going to be negative about this."

The council unanimously appointed an interim police chief -- former Biwabik Police Chief Hal Henning. He'll work 20 hours a week, beginning March 2. Thompson said he'll work with a committee, made up of council members and citizens, to establish a police department.

"We hope to have a department up and running in 90 days," he said.

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788