Northfield News reporter Suzi Rook’s interview with Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith is in today’s paper in a piece titled Off the radar: Police Chief Gary Smith talks about the events leading up to his medical leave of absence.
For almost 10 years, Smith has dealt with Type 2 diabetes, though it’s unclear whether that led to his chronic sleep apnea. Two operations last month, he hopes, will expand his airways enough to offer some relief. He also faces delicate neck surgery, a procedure that comes with some risk of paralysis.
I still don’t understand why he’s not talked publicly about these health problems till now, evidently not even with his own staff.
Re: the press conference on the heroin problem among Northfield youth:
For weeks he prepared, gathering verbal background from his investigators, he said, looking for verifiable information on the scope of the city’s heroin problem. The information he released at the press conference – the number of users, the apparent age range of addicts, even the allegations of teenagers duping Mayo Clinic patients out of their prescription painkillers – came from his staffers. Despite the verbal evisceration he took, Smith said he’d do it the same way all over again, believing the press conference was the right thing to do.
I can understand why he believes the press conference was the right thing to do. But there’s nothing in the article about the way in which he went about the press conference, ie, no involvement/communication/planning about it with the superintendent of schools, the mayor, the city administrator, or any of the Rice County Chemical Health professionals. It’s that lack of collaboration that fueled much of the backlash and undermined his stated goal of alerting the community to our evidently unique heroin problem.
Re: his boss, Al Roder:
His departure left more questions than answers, including the bombshell that Smith had started a criminal investigation of his boss, City Administrator Al Roder. Smith says he can’t – and won’t – talk about the investigation. That process is something the chief believes in and is committed to ensuring is followed, he said. “When it’s done,” he said of the investigation now being conducted by a Goodhue County Sheriff’s investigator, “people will have an opportunity to know what’s going on.”
(The ‘support our chief’ sign in the photo above is on the south side of Hwy 19 facing west, about half-way between Northfield and I35.)