Duluth Police Veteran Named Interim Chief, First Woman to Lead Force

The Duluth Police Department’s first female temporary head will be a longstanding employee of the agency.

Starting on August 1, Laura Marquardt, a deputy chief who oversees the administrative division, will assume the role of department acting police chief. Marquardt accepted the position on Monday, and late Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Emily Larson made the announcement.

Shortly after the mayor’s announcement, Marquardt told the Duluth News Tribune, “It’s one of those accolades you get to enjoy.” To be able to serve this police department in this position is an honor and humbling because, to me, it is a family and a calling.

In 1995, Marquart started working for the department. She worked as a patrol officer until 1999, a child abuse and neglect investigator until 2003, a violent crimes investigator until 2011, and then a sergeant in the department’s property, evidence, and crime scene section starting in 2011. In the administrative division, she was elevated to lieutenant in 2014, and to deputy chief in 2016.

In general terms, Marquardt claimed that she occasionally has a different perspective on the work than her male coworkers do.

To navigate the world, Marquardt remarked, “I use a lot more of my adaptability, listening, and speaking abilities than, perhaps, more direct kind communication.” If you’re a large man, you’re going to have an edge over me physically, so as a female in law enforcement, you need to be able to utilize those direct ways of communication, you need to know when to use them effectively, but you can’t rely on them. Therefore, throughout the course of my 27 years, I’ve had to refine how to account for it and how to ensure that I’m giving my community the greatest service possible.

She admitted that the fact that she was promoted as the first woman could be intriguing to some people, but she said that this was just one “little sliver” of a larger pie.

Marquardt will follow Chief Mike Tusken, who declared his retirement from the department earlier this summer in favor of a position at the law enforcement school at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Marquardt claimed that although she also applied for the more permanent chief position, she is unsure of her prospects.

The strategy is to stay the course and continue working on projects that staff members there have already started, such as a plan to conduct a racial bias audit and another to apply for accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. At least while she serves as the interim chief.

I see it to be an expansion of what I already do and what we do as a force, she added.

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