At Wednesday night’s council meeting, the Big Lake City Council accepted Police Chief Matt Hayen’s resignation. The resignation, submitted earlier this week, followed a long investigation of the chief after a complaint was filed against him. The nature of this complaint is still unknown to the public.
The acceptance of Hayen’s resignation was to be a part of the consent agenda, items that are not discussed during the meeting and are approved in one motion. However, former council member Scott Zettervall spoke during open forum to request that the item be removed for discussion.
Hayen’s wife, Molly Hayen, also spoke during the open forum part of the meeting, claiming her husband has not been treated well during the investigative process. She spoke to his character and his history of serving the city, saying he would never do anything against the city. She claimed she and her husband were still not aware of what the complaint filed against Hayen was, but she indicated that it arose from a falling out between Hayen and the former Chief, Joel Scharf. She said they were not told the results of the investigation, but instead were told earlier in the week that Chief Hayen had 48 hours to submit a resignation or the city would pursue termination. She said the city failed to communicate with the chief.
City administrator Clay Wilfahrt disputed the claim that there was no communication, as he said there has been ongoing communication during the investigation, although he was unable to answer every question Hayen or his attorney asked of the administrator.
All five council members expressed their sadness over accepting Heyen’s resignation. They all attested to his character, with Mayor Paul Knier going so far as to offer a letter of recommendation to Hayen’s next job. However, after reading the investigative report, all council members were in agreement that Hayen had made a mistake that could not be overlooked. Again, the investigative report is not available to the public, although Council Member Sam Hanson indicated more information would be released later,
Mayor Knier stated that this is not the first time that a city has had to let a good employee go because that employee made a mistake, and again expressed his regret over the situation.
Matt Hayen was not present at the meeting.