Robbinsdale has a new police chief after its former one was arrested in a prostitution sting.
Jim Franzen started in the top spot Wednesday, succeeding former chief Steven Smith, who resigned more than a month after his arrest. The City Council unanimously approved the decision Tuesday as more than a dozen police officers, reserve officers and staff showed their support.
“It certainly is an honor and a privilege,” Franzen said. “Although our city and police department recently had some unexpected rough waters … we continue to sail ahead and look forward to calmer seas, calmer times for our department.”
Smith’s prostitution arrest drew statewide and national attention. Franzen, a police captain, was put in the interim role and was the only person the city considered for the permanent position.
Franzen has lived in Robbinsdale for more than 30 years and has worked for Robbinsdale police for five years after 20 years in Eden Prairie.
“I’m absolutely pleased we can name him chief,” Council Member Pat Backen said at Tuesday’s meeting. “I think this is a really fortuitous situation where we have a very qualified member of the staff that has perspective from outside the organization as well as inside the organization.”
Smith, 45, of Ham Lake, had been the northwest suburb’s police chief since 2008. He resigned March 22, more than a month after he was arrested with 10 other men during a Feb. 20 Coon Rapids prostitution sting. An undercover officer had posted an ad on BackPage.com with sexually suggestive photos and language, inviting clients to a private residence.
Smith didn’t report the arrest until he resigned after news of it surfaced when Coon Rapids staff recognized him in his mug shot. He was charged March 24 in Anoka County District Court; his next court date is slated to be May 22.
If he’s convicted of the misdemeanor, the state police board will decide whether to reprimand him, suspend his license or revoke it.