Minneapolis parks get new police chief

  • Article by: ALEX EBERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 19, 2010 - 10:51 PM

Linda Bergstrom, who first worked for the parks in 1979, replaces 34-year police veteran Bradley Johnson.

A new law enforcement leader was appointed for the Minneapolis park system Monday, replacing a nine-year chief in what appears to be a restructuring move.

Lt. Linda Bergstrom was appointed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to replace Chief Bradley Johnson.

The change was announced by the board Monday afternoon in a one-paragraph statement.

The statement said Bergstrom's appointment was effective immediately and that Johnson "has left the Park Board.''

Bergstrom will oversee a force of more than 30 full-time employees who protect the city's 182 park properties. Bergstrom, who started working for the parks in 1979, could not be reached for comment.

She started as a park patrol agent in 1979 and was promoted to officer in 1981, sergeant in 1989 and lieutenant in 2006, according to a Park Board news release.

Johnson, a 34-year Minneapolis police veteran, took over as park police chief nine years ago.

Johnson said Monday that he wanted to retire a year ago but was asked to stay on.

Johnson's departure appears to be part of department restructuring plans and is not linked to any wrongdoing on his part, said his attorney, Marshall Tanick.

Park Board commissioners were mum on the reappointment beyond what was released in the statement. "I just can't talk about that," board President John Erwin said.

When contacted at home, Johnson said he wasn't fired, but retired. He said severance differences remain between himself and the Park Board.

Tanick said, "Things are happening very quickly. We are looking into the issues coming from the chief's situation."

Johnson said that the board and Superintendent David Fisher are "doing some reorganizing and restructuring" of the Park Police and that the belt-tightening includes removing some employees.

Johnson took over the Park Police Department in July 2001, two days after he retired from a 25-year career with the city's Police Department.

Before taking over the Park Police, Johnson had been inspector of the Police Department's Third Precinct for two years. During his career, Johnson served in the Police Department's juvenile division, homicide unit and as head of the Fifth Precinct before taking over in the Third.

Alex Ebert • 612-673-4264

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