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Schafer, too, wants to connect with the community. But his first priority, he said, is holding his staff and employees accountable.
Under previous Police Chief Paul Schnell, two officers who faced disciplinary problems left the department. One was fired, and the other agreed to resign.
Keeping abreast of technology, whether it concerns report writing, call and activity tracking or Internet crime, also is a challenge.
The rural and urban nature of Hastings, with its farmland and its position as county seat, leads to more collaboration with other agencies, such as the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s Drug Task Force, than Schafer had in Minneapolis. The city made headlines in recent years due to youth drug problems. Hwy. 61 and the new bridge across the Mississippi River opens up the city to traffic headed to other parts of the state.
All those are issues Schafer plans to tackle. But he didn’t come into the job with a 90-day plan, he said.
“I’m not going to change,” he said. “I’m going to continue to do what makes me successful, what got me here. My personal goal is to establish relationships, get to know my people, build trust and then start hammering out the issues at hand.
“I’m really, really enjoying myself,” Schafer said. “Everything that comes my way is a challenge. I enjoy challenges. That’s why I do this job.”
Schafer, the single parent of a 15-year-old son, also hopes to benefit from the slightly slower pace of life in a smaller city. His son is involved in basketball and soccer, thus so is he. He enjoys snowmobiling, riding his Harley and working on his collector cars. Maybe he’ll play a little golf.
Long, too, said being chief in Lakeville is his dream job.
“I’m excited to be in a community that’s involved and takes pride in their community,” he said. “I’m an active person, an avid runner. I’m not ready to call it quits. It’s not a cliché when I say I love my job. I honestly love my job.”
Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284