Mayor, council recognize former police chief

Circle Pines Mayor Dave Bartholomay presents former Centennial Lakes Police Department Chief James Coan with a Mayor’s Award at the Aug. 24 council meeting. 

CIRCLE PINES — Now that the Centennial Lakes Police Department (CLPD) has a new chief leading the department, the mayor and City Council wanted to pay tribute to the former chief, who left the department in “great shape.” 

Mayor Dave Bartholomay and the council presented former CLPD Chief James Coan with a Mayor’s Award for “leadership and commitment” to the department for his nearly 10 years of service at the Aug. 24 City Council meeting. If we were not currently in the middle of a pandemic, the council chambers likely would have been packed full of people wishing to honor Coan. Instead, it was only the council, Coan’s wife Kris and his son Michael. 

The Mayor’s Award has been given out six times since 2009. 

“I can tell you that when he came here, it was a difficult time. We had gone through some transition and turmoil in the police department and there was a need for real leadership. We did a search and we chose Jim, and it was a great decision,” Bartholomay said. “He was, in my mind, exactly what the department needed at the time. Very professional, a calm demeanor, a focus on the development of his officers and on best practices … It is not necessarily easy being a chief of a three-city joint department. Three mayors, three councils, three city administrators, but he was really talented at getting us all to work together.” 

City Administrator Patrick Antonen said it was an absolute pleasure to work with Chief Coan. 

“This last six months have been very interesting for our city and the department between COVID-19 and the social unrest that has been happening. Having someone who is a steady, calm influence was really beneficial for us,” he said. 

Council Member Dean Goldberg described Coan as a “class act.” 

He said to Coan, “You have kept peace in the cites of Circle Pines, Lexington and Centerville and we owe you a bit of gratitude for that. One of things that I am most impressed with is that I think you developed the model for community-oriented policing and it is really wonderful that we have that in our department and in our city,” he said. “You did a great job hiring the right people and training them: not only providing them the resources they needed to do their jobs, but also taking care of their personal needs.” 

Council Member Matt Percy recalled an incident that occurred around five years ago when he was a victim of theft at the park. “I ended up chasing that person down and there was an altercation between me and that person in the street, which of course doesn’t happen in Circle Pines very often,” he recalled. “Chief Coan was the second officer to respond to that, on a Saturday no less. You could see the look on his face when he walked up and saw a council member in the street … But he was absolutely a model of calm, had a professional demeanor and he made sure that everyone was safe. That’s a perfect example of what we are looking for in a police department and from our chief.” 

Coan thanked everyone for the kind words and thanked the council and city staff for being team players. “I want to thank all of you for your personal and professional work,” he said. “I think that together we kept Circle Pines a very safe community and we have enhanced the quality of life for our citizens and that quality of life is the reason why my wife and I are going to stay here as residents of Circle Pines. It is a wonderful community.” 


Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or

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