St. Paul Fire Chief Steps Down Amid Retaliation Complaints

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After weeks of controversy, St. Paul’s fire chief announced Saturday he will step down as head of the department.

The decision comes after a city investigation found Tim Butler retaliated against an employee who complained about him.

He has been the subject of five complaints in his 10 years as chief. Two of those are still pending investigations.

tim butler St. Paul Fire Chief Steps Down Amid Retaliation Complaints

(credit: St. Paul FD/Facebook)

The city says he has requested to be reinstated to his previous title of fire emergency management and communications chief.

Butler joined the St. Paul Fire Department in 1990. His conduct in the last couple of years has become a subject of some controversy.

The city’s deputy mayor issued him a written reprimand earlier this month for retaliating against an employee who filed a complaint against Butler more than a year ago. The employee told city officials Butler called them and repeatedly questioned them about why they filed the complaint against him. The deputy mayor calls that behavior retaliation, which violates the city’s workplace conduct policy.

Another complaint alleges Butler used a derogatory term in an email to a firefighter earlier this month.

In a statement, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman called St. Paul Fire Department one of the best in the country and thanked Butler for his service in his role as chief.

The president of Local 21, the St. Paul firefighter’s union, sent WCCO a statement:

“St. Paul Firefighters welcome the change and feel the timing is right with a new mayor taking office soon. No matter who is the fire chief, St. Paul Firefighters are committed to deliver the best service possible to our great city and citizens.”

The mayor also announced EMS Chief Matthew Simpson will serve as acting fire chief until a new chief is named. Simpson has been with the department since 1994.

Butler has not returned WCCO’s request for comment.

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