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Former Brainerd police chief to lead Nebraska State Patrol

Former Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc has accepted a new job closer to the Midwest to lead the Nebraska State Patrol. Bolduc left Brainerd in 2010 to be the police chief for Harbor Police with the Unified Port of San Diego, as he is pictured here in uniform. Photo by Harbor Police

Former Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc accepted a new law enforcement position and is leaving the West Coast for the Midwest.

The move, however, is not back to Brainerd. Or even Minnesota for that matter.

Bolduc, who served as Brainerd's police chief from 2001-2010, will lead the Nebraska State Patrol starting Oct. 16. Bolduc left Brainerd in May of 2010 after he was hired as the police chief of the Harbor Police Department for the Port of San Diego, a position he has been in for the past seven years.

Bolduc—who said Brainerd will always have a special place in his heart—said in a telephone interview that "everything happened so fast" when he applied and was accepted as the new superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, where he will lead more than 700 employees with an $85 million annual budget. In San Diego, he was leading a department of 141 sworn officers and 25 civilians with an annual budget of $38 million, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Bolduc said he wasn't looking for a new job, but the open position was brought to his attention by a friend and the job seemed perfect to him, despite some recent challenges the department has faced. The Omaha paper reported the former superintendent was fired June 30 for allegedly interfering in internal affairs investigations and ignoring a complaint by a female trooper who said she underwent a sexually invasive examination during a pre-employment physical.

"It's normally never as bad as one thinks it is," Bolduc said of the challenges. "I did my research and learned what a great organization it is with a lot of great people. They just need a little stability, a little continuity at the top and I felt I can provide that and I applied. Through the process they agreed with me that my skills set fit.

"It's really a team effort and there are a lot of great people there who want to do the best for the public."

Bolduc said he will be overseeing more staff, but he is up for the challenge. His goal is to personally meet all the employees in his first year at the helm.

Bolduc will go from earning a salary of $209,000 to $150,000, but said when looking at the cost of living and housing between the two states, the wages are comparably the same.

"It's not about the money." Bolduc said. "It's about enjoying the job. I like working with people and I like solving problems. I have worked in the public service since I was 14, working as a swimming instructor and a lifeguard. ... I've been (working for the public) my whole life and still enjoy it. ... More likely than not this will be my last stop."

According to the Omaha World-Herald, the governor said he was impressed by Bolduc's experience in dealing with challenges and making improvements at several law enforcement agencies.

"He has a great background, a great fit for this and obviously a track record of success," the governor said.

Bolduc, 52, served in municipal policing for 23 years in Minnesota before he left for the West Coast. He was the police chief for Brainerd and Mora spanning nearly 13 years. He also served as a police officer and police supervisor for Maple Grove.

Bolduc, who graduated from Osseo Senior High School in Maple Grove, has a bachelor's degree from Bemidji State University and a master's degree in Organizational Leadership from the National University in San Diego. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Bolduc said his primary motivation to take a new post in Nebraska is to be closer to family. He and his wife, Dawn, have a son who lives in Kansas and their daughter lives in Bloomington.

Bolduc said he visits Brainerd a few times a year to see friends and go hunting and fishing.

"We still have many friends (in Brainerd)," Bolduc said. "We have a lot of connections and still consider Brainerd home. Our time there was great and there are so many great people. This is where our kids were raised there and they decided to settle in the Midwest, so we will gravitate back to where they are.

"I promised my wife we would not do another Minnesota winter."