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Crookston police chief retires

Tim Motherway didn’t hesitate when asked about the most significant event during his 25 years with the Crookston Police Department, the last 13 as chief.

“By far, the Dru Sjodin case was the biggest,” he said.

Motherway, who announced this week that he will retire in October to take a private-sector job, was an organizer of the search that found her body on April 17, 2004, in rural Crookston, leading to the conviction of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a convicted sex offender who grew up in Crookston.

“There was a great range of emotions in finding her,” Motherway said. “It was sad, but I was happy for the family as it brought everything home about what actually happened.”

Motherway said he also found satisfaction in that day’s cooperation of the federal, state, county and city law enforcement agencies.

“There was no head-butting, no jurisdiction fight; everyone had a common goal,” he said.

His regret is that the case has soiled his town’s image.

“Every time Mr. Rodriguez is in the news, it’s noted that he’s from Crookston,” Motherway said. “That’s not what I want Crookston to be known for, nor should it be what it’s known for.”

Crookston Mayor Dave Genereux praised Motherway’s work both on the job and outside it.

“He’s been a great employee and a great leader and we’re sad to see him go,” Genereux said. “He’s also done a lot of (volunteer) work with youth and the community.

“He’s not a flashy chief. He keeps a low profile and is willing to let the staff take the glory.”

Genereux said there hasn’t been time for City Council members to agree on a replacement plan, but the city’s history has been to hire from within the department.

“We’ve gone outside the department to hire a police chief just once in the last 20 years,” he said.

Motherway spent eight years as a patrolman and four years as a lieutenant before becoming the chief.

He won’t be leaving Crookston for his next job. He will become a regional coordinator of the National Child Safety Council, an organization that provides safety educational materials for schools and other groups. He will work out of his Crookston home, handling an area that includes northwestern Minnesota, most of North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

“I’m real proud of the police department,” Motherway said. “I believe I will be leaving the department better than when I inherited it.”

Article written by Ryan Bakken of the Grand Forks Herald

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