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New assignment gives Farmington officer Hollatz a break

Last Friday, he was Farmington’s police detective sergeant. On Monday, Lee Hollatz was on the road as a patrol sergeant.

After 13 years in investigations, Hollatz has been reassigned to patrol sergeant as part of a general reassignment in positions within the police department. Officers are often reassigned to different tasks so they do not get burned out, Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist said.

Lindquist said it is not uncommon for police departments to rotate officer duties from one specialized area to another. School resource officers stay in that position for an average of six years. Members on the Dakota County Drug Task Force generally participate in that capacity for three years at a time.

“Most often, it’s due to the stress of the positions,” Lindquist said. “For all of these positions, we look at them as having a defined amount of time and we will pull you out in order to keep you well versed in this job.”

Hollatz began his career with the Farmington police department in 1995. He was moved to investigations in 2001, under then-police detective Jerome Wacker. Back in those days, Hollatz said, he and Wacker would have to collect and process their own evidence from crime scenes. These days, FPD has a special unit just for that purpose.

The amount of crime in Farmington hasn’t changed all that much, but many of the players involved in local crimes have. Late last week, Hollatz recalled some of his bigger cases over the years — the shooting of a Farmington man in his home; a holdup at Dunn Bros. that wound up being one in a string of thefts carried out by a Burnsville man; and even a smash-and-grab burglary at the Farmington Liquor Store.

Hollatz wrapped up his last big case, the investigation into the disappearance of Laura Jean Simonson, just before his duties changed.

Even though he his reassignment was set months ago, Hollatz had no intention of stopping his investigation into Simonson’s whereabouts. With several binders full of details and timelines, he fully intended to follow through on her case.

“My number one goal in this case was to bring Laura home,” he said. “It’s just not going to be the way I wanted it to be.”

Farmington police sergeant Jim Murphy has stepped in as the new detective sergeant. He began his duties in his new assignment on Monday.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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