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Whitewater police chief might have to pay to resign post

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Kevin Hoffman
March 9, 2011
— Whitewater Police Chief Jim Coan might have to return $10,000 to the city after offering his resignation to accept a similar position closer to his family in Minnesota.

Coan, who led the police department for the last 18 years, notified City Manager Kevin Brunner in a letter Friday he was taking a job as police chief for the Centennial Lakes Police Department north of Minneapolis.


His last day is March 19, and he assumes his new position March 21.


A clause in Coan's contract signed in late 2006 stipulates that he pay a $10,000 penalty if he leaves for another job within five years.


City officials made that addition to the contract after Coan left to become chief of police in Hudson, Minn., only to quit after two weeks and return to Whitewater. Coan said at the time Hudson was not what he and his family envisioned, and they were unhappy there.


The Whitewater City Council will review Coan's contract at its next meeting, Brunner said.


The police commission will meet Thursday to name an interim chief and draft an outline for the search process to find Coan's permanent replacement.


"He's been looking to move on," Brunner said. "He served this community pretty well for 18 years now, and I think he raised the standards in the department considerably."


The Whitewater Police Department in 2008 became the state's smallest agency to earn accreditation. Coan helped cut the department's budget by using interns and part-time community service officers.


Coan for years was searching for a job in Minnesota, where he said his brother lives.


Before leaving Hudson, he turned down an offer in Apple Valley, Minn., after finding his family didn't want to move there.


Last year, he was a finalist for the chief's job in Mankato, Minn. He said in February 2010 during a police commission meeting he wasn't dissatisfied with his position in Whitewater but wanted to move closer to his family.


The Gazette was unable to reach Coan for comment.


Before accepting the position with Centennial Lakes Police Department, Coan also was a finalist for the same job in nearby Lino Lakes, Minn.


In his letter of resignation to Brunner, Coan spoke highly of Whitewater and his relationships with city officials.


"It's is my opinion that the future of the Whitewater Police Department remains very bright," he wrote. "I leave the department in very capable hands with a very strong command staff and an outstanding group of police supervisors and civilian managers.


"I believe that the strategic groundwork has been set to move the organization progressively and professionally into the future."


Coan earned his bachelor's degree from Northern Michigan University and a master's degree in criminal justice at Michigan State University. Before joining Whitewater's police force in 1992, he was a captain at the Appleton Police Department.



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