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Northfield police chief takes leave after heroin flap

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Gary Smith
Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith is taking a leave of absence after some accused him of overstating heroin use in the community.
MPR photo/Sea Stachura

Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith called a news conference July 3 to talk about what he said was a major problem with heroin use in the community. 

He said then that as many as 250 current and former Northfield High School students could be involved -- some feeding heroin habits of as much as $800 a day. 

In the days following that news conference, school officials and others said the chief was greatly overstating the problem. A drug counselor says she is aware of 50-60 kids in the community who use heroin, either regularly or occasionally. 

Northfield city administrator Al Roder says Chief Smith requested a leave of absence, and his request was granted Monday.  

Roder says data privacy law prevents him from saying why the chief requested a leave, or how long he will be away from his job. 

Roder says Northfield Police Capt. Roger Schroeder will assume temporary management of the police department.