Lt. Mueller, Det. Krueger to fill in for police chief

Published 6:56 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To fill in for police chief Paul Philipp, who is retiring Jan. 31 after 31 years in the department, Austin officials will turn to two current cops — and probably not an interim chief.

Effective Feb. 1, Lt. John Mueller and Det. Brian Krueger will be handling the duties of chief, Austin Human Resources Director Trish Wiechmann said.

Mueller will be in charge of the department’s patrolling efforts, while Krueger will oversee investigations. The two will also share some duties, like morning press conferences, Wiechmann said.

The human resources director said the cops will work out their schedules together and figure out how to rotate on certain duties.

The city likely won’t, however, turn toward an outside interim chief, which it is doing to fill the vacancy left by fire chief Dan Wilson’s Dec. 31 retirement.

David Schliek, who currently chairs the Minnesota Fire Service Certification Board and works as a pipe fitter out of Detroit Lakes, Minn., has been identified as the top candidate, though the city council must still approve his temporary hire.

Council is expected to vote on the matter Monday.

City officials have said they like the idea of getting a fresh perspective on the fire department in a short time-frame — by state law, an interim hire can only stay on board for a month.

However, Mayor Tom Stiehm has said he doesn’t think the same thing is necessary with the police department.

“Because the police department is running the way it is, we don’t need to go bring someone in from outside,” Stiehm said in a recent interview. “We have excellent people.”

Philipp announced his retirement publicly Jan. 19, citing a recently filed complaint against him as the reason why.

The city and Philipp have not discussed details of the complaint, though Philipp did say that allegations against him are largely unfounded and untrue. He said in a written statement that he is stepping down so the city can avoid further distractions, a reference to the Curt Rude situation that has played out the last two years.

Rude, the department’s former captain, was convicted of felony drug possession last November and subsequently lost his police license.

“I think it is best to spare the Austin police force additional controversy that may be divisive,” Philipp wrote, “that may cast doubt on the integrity of law enforcement, and that can only be harmful to the department that I have endeavored to serve.”