(The No. 10 story in the Northfield News' Top 10 Stories of 2012)

 

Northfield Public Safety Director Mark Taylor has submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 4.

A new job didn’t lure Taylor from Northfield, instead his wife Suzette’s new job in Wisconsin is the reason for his departure.

“I had planned to stay and get through the building project,” he said of the new Safety Center, now in the planning stages, “but circumstances personal and professional made me not want to do that.”

The Hutchinson native, who has served the city since mid-2007, was named Northfield police chief the following April. In 2009, Taylor was given oversight of the city’s fire department, and with it the title of public safety director.

“He’s been a tremendous leader for the police and fire departments,” said City Administrator Tim Madigan. “He’s instituted a lot of progressive reforms in both departments.”

Taylor’s tenure in Northfield has been anything but smooth. Just weeks before his arrival in Northfield, the city’s then police chief held a press conference announcing up to 250 young Northfielders were abusing prescription painkillers and heroin and then took a medical leave of absence.

For years, Taylor has promoted the need for a new Safety Center, something the City Council approved last summer. The new building, which will be built on Riverside Drive off Hwy. 3, is the accomplishment he’s proudest of.

“The building here is totally inadequate,” he said of the current facility. “It’s a big thing for the legacy of the department. It will improve morale, make their (officers’) jobs easier.

But even as Taylor worked to get a new Safety Center, there were other troubles. Firefighters never seemed to warm to Taylor, saying he had no experience running a fire department.

Turmoil, he said, was a contributing factor to his departure.

But Madigan praised the director, saying he’s been an “agent of change” for both departments. On the police side, Madigan said Taylor has reviewed and updated policies and procedures, while on the fire department side, Taylor instituted what’s been termed the “road map,” a plan to ensure the department meets accepted professional standards.

With Public Safety Director Mark Taylor’s recent resignation, the Northfield City Council will soon have to look at how public safety is run.

The city plans to wait to fill the vacancy until it sees the results of a fire service study, which could lead to a separate governing entity that includes the fire service of Northfield, Dundas and area townships, instead of the current city-run fire department.

Deputy Police Chief Chuck Walerius is acting as interim police chief, but the public safety director issue won’t be addressed until the study’s results come through, according to City Administrator Tim Madigan.

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