The discussion stemmed from the city’s issues with the suspensions of Chief Keith Schroeder and Capt. Jon Barnett of the Devils Lake Police Department a month ago.

The Ramsey County Commission met last week and discussed a plan to hire a human resources specialist on either a part-time or consultancy basis.

The discussion stemmed from the city’s issues with the suspensions of Chief Keith Schroeder and Capt. Jon Barnett of the Devils Lake Police Department a month ago.

In that case, it was revealed that Police Commissioner Craig Stromme likely failed to complete evaluations of DLPD’s top officer for the years 2014 and 2015.

A Journal request for emails between Stromme and Schroeder in the two months before his 2016 evaluation came up empty, as no emails were discovered. Similarly, no emails were apparently exchanged between Schroeder and Barnett in the months prior to Barnett’s last evaluation.

The apparent lack of police oversight from city hall prompted the County Commission to focus on its human resources options in order to avoid a similar outcome, in which the city’s two top officers appear to have been suspended, and all but officially fired, based on one report filed by the city’s human resources liaison, Tanya Wieler.

That operations assessment report, which surveyed officers at DLPD, presented a dim picture of leadership at the department.

In the report, it was summarized that officers’ “perception is that upper management both seem to be ‘getting by,’ and lack true passion for serving the City of Devils Lake.”

Specifically, lack of effective communication, problems with broken and defective equipment and lack of support for officers from upper management were cited by those surveyed.

One question: If “upper management” failed, does that include the police commissioner, who evidently didn’t complete two years of evaluations and didn’t communicate, at least via email, with Schroeder in the months leading up to his most recent annual evaluation?

Another question: If morale at the department was so low for so long, why wasn’t that reflected in recent evaluations of both Schroeder and Barnett?

Stromme has yet to comment on either the missing evaluations or the 2016 evaluation of Schroeder, in which Stromme noted the chief’s “organization skill” and awarded him a satisfactory performance.

The city continues to work on separation agreements for both officers. No timetable has been set for the announcement of either agreement while Schroeder and Barnett remain on paid leave.

At last week’s county meeting, commissioner Jeff Frith introduced a candidate for a possible human resources position.

However, commissioner Ed Brown noted that the job would need to be announced publicly and open to all applicants.

That, paired with the commission’s move to table the discussion until next Tuesday’s meeting, means that the commission will likely look to make some decision as to how to proceed then.

The board agreed to move forward cautiously, but hastily, considering the fallout from the city’s oversight problems.

“It’s something that the county is in desperate need of fulfilling,” Frith said.

The county has an estimated $14,000 in the budget that could be used to fund the position.