DULUTH – Former Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek was named deputy chief of the Duluth police patrol division, Chief Mike Tusken said Friday.

The announcement comes two years after Stracek rejoined the department following his resignation from the nearby agency's top post in 2017.

"I have known and worked with Stracek during much of my career and have always known him to have the courage to do what's right, not easy — the qualities we expect our staff to exemplify," Tusken said in a statement.

The Cloquet City Council placed Stracek on administrative leave in 2017 after complaints about his leadership, but a probe by a third-party investigator said the allegations were "unfounded," according to the Pine Journal.

The council publicly exonerated Stracek, who resigned after reaching a separation agreement for six months' pay. The investigator's report suggested that some council members and police officers may have teamed up to get Stracek dismissed, the Pine Journal wrote.

Stracek worked at the Duluth Police Department from 1993 to 2014, at one time serving as commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. After leaving Cloquet, he worked briefly for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Police Department.

Since 2019, Stracek has served as a patrol officer in Duluth's westernmost neighborhoods.

"While working patrol over the past two years, Stracek has had an opportunity to see up close and personal the challenges and opportunities in our neighborhoods while building the relationships and rapport necessary to be an effective leader in our community and to our talented staff," Tusken said.

The deputy chief position opened after the Duluth City Council unanimously voted to amend the city's charter to restructure the agency's leadership hierarchy. The change created a deputy chief role to oversee the department's administrative division, which handles tasks such as training and hiring, in response to calls from the community to improve law enforcement in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Deputy Chief Laura Marquardt, who oversees the department's investigative and administrative divisions, will fill that new role. Deputy Chief Nick Lukovsky, who leads the patrol division, will switch to supervising investigations.

Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478