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Two women apply for Menahga Police Chief

The Menahga City Council held a special meeting on Friday, Jan. 20 to speak to the two candidates.

MenahgaCityHall2022Wide.jpg
Menahga City Hall 2022
Shannon Geisen/ Park Rapids Enterprise
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Pamela Hodgden and Amy Lane interviewed for Menahga Police Chief.

The Menahga City Council held a special meeting on Friday, Jan. 20 to speak to the two candidates. Council members Dan Warmbold and Durwin Tomperi were absent.

Pamela Hodgden

Hodgden, a 2004 Menahga High School graduate, is currently a narcotics and violent crimes investigator for Leech Lake. She’s also assigned to the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and FBI Headwaters Task Force.

She graduated from Bemidji State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice. She’s previously served as a full-time police officer (2017-18) and a dispatcher/jailer (2008-18).

“Community-oriented policing is where my soul fits,” she said.

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Hodgden emphasized that she is a meticulous investigator, saying integrity is essential to law enforcement. As a supervisor, she aims to be “firm, fair and consistent.”

“Menahga needs consistency. It’s sad to see Menahga flip through chiefs of police,” Hodgden said. “I’d like to see more stability in this department.”

Hodgden said records and evidence management would be a priority for her, if offered the position.

She favors GPS on squad cars. Leech Lake currently has them, she noted. Accountability is important, Hodgden said, but GPS tracking should not be used to micromanage.

When asked if she would show favoritism, Hodgden replied, “I would give my grandmother a citation.”

Council member Mike Netland commented that the police chief “is not a self-employed contractor. That person is an employee of the city of Menahga, and as such, is accountable to the city council and to the city administrator and is obligated to perform the duties that the city administrator lays forward.”

In closing, Netland asked how the 5-foot Hodgden has handled “big, burly guys who could wrestle a grizzly bear and probably win.”

Hodgden said she has faced situations where her words de-escalated the problem. “I’d say that’s one of my bigger strengths,” she said, adding she has successfully arrested “big, angry guys.”

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Building a relationship with co-workers and co-agencies also play a role “in an all-out, drag-out fight.”

“You have to learn how to read people and address the situation. I’m not going to go into a bar fight with 10 people, alone,” she added.

Amy Lane

A Sebeka High School graduate, Lane is currently a deputy sheriff and investigator/sergeant for the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office. She has worked for the county since 2004.

She graduated from Alexandria Technical College with anAssociate of Applied Science degree in law enforcement.

Lane was a jailer/dispatcher for Wadena County Sheriff’s Office for three years. She has previously worked as a police officer for the Verndale, Sebeka, Menahga and Wadena police departments. She took over deputy coroner duties for the Wadena Medical Clinic from 2008 to 2013.

Describing herself as a “Type A personality” and detail-oriented, Lane said, “I’m not afraid of work.”

She said people skills, communication and accountability are required skills for a police chief.

If offered the position, Lane said her top priorities would be organizing the evidence room. “I hear it’s a mess,” she said, calling that a liability for the city.

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She also wants to “build relationships” back to their prior strength.

She expressed enthusiasm for getting police officers into the schools.

Lane also favors GPS on city squad cars, calling it “a good tool and necessary, if used correctly.” If constantly used to question officers, Lane said it could kill morale.

When asked about showing favoritism in a small community, Lane recounted that her first bust involved high school classmates at a party.

“Everyone is treated the same in my book,” she said.

Lane expressed concern about rumors she has heard about conflict between the council, administration and law enforcement.

Interim City Administrator Laura Ahlf assured her that the rumors aren’t true. She said it’s her philosophy that if someone is trusted to do a job, they will do that job. “Communication should go both ways,” Ahlf said.

Netland said, “There will be oversight,” as the police chief is accountable to the city administrator.

Mayor Liz Olson said everyone should hold themselves accountable, not simply blame others.

Lane had specific questions about the salary, health benefits, a take-home squad car and the flexibility of work hours.

Her husband, Tighe Lane, is Sebeka Police Chief.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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