Amid controversy over remarks Northfield, Mn.,’s heroin problem, Police Chief Gary Smith has been granted an indefinite leave of absence, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. On July 3, Smith told a news conference that up to 250 young people in Northfield were using heroin or a related narcotic, fueling a dramatic rise in burglaries and thefts. Questions have been raised about why Smith called the news conference without notifying other city leaders and whether he exaggerated the problem.
Capt. Roger Schroeder, Northfield’s lead drug investigator and commander of the Five County Drug Task Force, will serve as acting police chief. On July 3, Schroeder gave a snapshot presentation on 48 hours in the life of a Northfield heroin addict and said that three people had been indicted in connection with heroin possession, a claim he later acknowledged was incorrect. No one in Northfield yet has been charged with a heroin offense.