Northfield police chief takes leave after heroin flap

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.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!