Neil Bauer, Woodbury sergeant, set to start Dec. 20
The city of Wyoming has hired its new public safety director, Neil Bauer, a sergeant in the Woodbury Police Department. The council approved the hiring of Bauer at its Nov. 16 meeting. He will replace current Public Safety Director Paul Hoppe, who announced his retirement in September. Bauer is ineligible to be considered for promotion within the Woodbury Police Department due to nepotism policies.
Bauer received both a master’s in police leadership and a doctorate of education from the University of St. Thomas. He has served as a police sergeant in Woodbury since 2007 and started as a community service officer in Woodbury in 1999.
Bauer was one of six candidates who applied for the position. Five candidates were brought in for the first round of interviews with a panel, including the city’s city administrator and assistant city administrator, as well as another police chief from one of the 10 largest cities in the state, and a former city administrator from an inner-ring metropolitan suburb.
Two candidates were then selected out of the five, and they participated in the final interviews, exercises, and background checks.
The city of Woodbury operates under a similar public safety model, with both police and fire departments answering to the single public safety director. As a sergeant, Bauer provided leadership, training and planning for his assigned patrol shift. In addition, he has participated in the police/paramedic cross-trained program and is a certified paramedic.
City Administrator Robb Linwood said in his address to the council regarding Bauer: “Considering medicals are our greatest call volume for the Fire Department, his past experience as a paramedic [will] yield valuable experience to our fire division.”
Bauer’s focus in Woodbury included a data-driven approach to developing evidence-based policing strategies. He also focused on developing methods for officer recruitment and retention, as well as co-created the Woodbury Police Multicultural Advisory Committee, which seeks to enrich relationships between the department and people of underrepresented cultures.
Bauer also has nine years’ previous experience working as an adjunct faculty member teaching law enforcement and criminal justice at Century College and is currently an instructor at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a position he’s held since 2016.
Bauer’s tentative start date will be Dec. 20, 2021, which will be a couple of weeks before Hoppe’s departure.
Officer off-duty employment policy implemented
The Wyoming City Council also approved an off-duty employment policy for the city’s police department. Officers will often take off-duty employment, such as event security for a business, but there is a gray area of what powers the officers have for such off-duty work. This has been the historical norm, but many cities are moving to make a change in policy due to the gray areas of legality.
“Historically, we’ve allowed people to work off-duty, but with where law enforcement is going today, and we talk about indemnification liabilities, workman’s comp, and a growing gray area in how we provide these services, the clarity that comes within the [new] policy really defines everybody’s responsibility,” Hoppe said.
The problem in the past, Hoppe said, was when the officers are enacting powers of arrest, or any liability or indemnity the officers might incur on off-duty work.
“Currently when they hire an off-duty officer, they reach out and it’s a lot of times on a cash basis, and there’s not a formal contract. Once they enact powers of policing, there becomes a significantly gray area of who is ultimately responsible for the actions the officer takes in enforcing statute,” Hoppe said.
Based on the fact that the city grants officers the power of policing, including making arrests, even if a business agrees to incur the liabilities or indemnity for whatever actions the officers might make on their behalf, the businesses don’t have the power to grant an officer their powers of policing.
“A normal employer doesn’t have the ability to hire somebody and give them arrest powers; they can only be issued from the state/city, and it’s tied to their primary employment.
“Therefore, because of that reason, the duties assigned and the scope in which they act, it’s really tied back to the cities and employers, because that’s where the authority comes from,” Hoppe said.
The new policy will now force businesses to request an on-duty police officer through the Wyoming Police Department, and must do so more than 14 days in advance in order to guarantee a Wyoming police officer’s attendance. If a vendor requests a police officer with less than 14 days’ notice, a request will be made by surrounding community law enforcement agencies, and the contract would be directly between the vendor and the law enforcement agency that accepts the coverage.
Wyoming’s police officers will be able to volunteer for events, but will also be on a forced overtime list. Any time an officer volunteers for an event, their name will go to the bottom of the forced coverage list.