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Devils Lake to part ways with embattled police chief, captain

DEVILS LAKE -- Devils Lake will part ways with two police leaders accused of creating low morale in the department, but not before paying out more than $76,000 to the embattled officers.

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Devils Lake Police Chief Keith Schroeder (left) and Capt. Jon Barnett.

DEVILS LAKE -- Devils Lake will part ways with two police leaders accused of creating low morale in the department, but not before paying out more than $76,000 to the embattled officers.

The Devils Lake City Commission on Monday approved separation agreements for Chief Keith Schroeder and Capt. Jon Barnett. Both officers have been on administrative paid leave since April 3.

Devils Lake police officers told human resources staff they had no respect for Schroeder and Barnett, adding the department had become the “laughingstock” of North Dakota’s law enforcement under the two’s leadership, prompting city commissioners to suspend the officers.

The separation agreements end more than a month of negotiations between the city and the two police leaders, but it’s unclear how soon the city will hire Barnett’s and Schroeder’s replacements.

Sgt. Jim Frank is serving as the interim police chief. Other officers also have stepped up to cover Barnett’s duties.

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Commissioner Craig Stromme, who holds the police department portfolio, has not returned several requests for comment.

The separation agreement for Schroeder, who worked for the Grand Forks Police Department from 1986 until becoming Devils Lake police chief in 2009, will terminate his employment July 31, though he will be paid, with benefits, $49,929 for his time on administrative leave. Barnett’s employment will end June 30, and he will be paid, with benefits, $26,370.

Signing the agreements doesn’t mean Barnett and Schroeder admit wrongdoing or liability, documents state. The city, commissioners and Devils Lake employees also must refrain from “any negative public comments” regarding Schroeder’s and Barnett’s tenures with the city, according to the agreement.

One clause in Barnett’s separation agreement but not Schroeder’s is a letter written to Barnett from the city thanking him for his years of service.

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