The Rogers City Council, at a special meeting Monday, June 17, voted unanimously to extend a conditional offer of employment for the position of Rogers chief of police to Daniel Wills, a captain with the Maple Grove Police Department since 2014. 

Wills was one of two finalists for the job. The other finalist was Chris Fischer, deputy chief of police in Orono.

Wills would replace former Police Chief Jeff Beahen, who retired Jan. 27, 2019, to become security director for the Minnesota Twins.

Sgt. Jason Foster has been the interim chief of police in Rogers since Beahen’s departure, pending the selection of a permanent chief. Foster, a member of the Rogers Police Department since January 2002, did not apply for the permanent position.

Once the employment offer has been extended to Wills and accepted, City Administrator Steve Stahmer said he anticipates the timeline will involve “a standard two-week’s notice” to Wills’ current employer. It could be three to four weeks before the new chief will be on board in Rogers, according to Stahmer.

Former Police Chief Jeff Beahen’s annual salary at the time he resigned was $121,180. The annual salary range for Rogers police chief in 2019 is listed as $88,150 to $116,064.

Acknowledging that the two finalists came out very close in all the assessments and that the city council had a hard time choosing between two very well-qualified candidates, Mayor Rick Ihli said before the council voted that it was “pretty important” in his mind that the vote be unanimous.

“I think it’s necessary that we come with a unified voice so the Police Department knows we’re 100 percent behind the candidate,” Ihli said.

Stating his preference for Wills, Ihli added, “I see Dan as a person who articulates what he needs and wants. His vision is to be the chief in Rogers. Dan is not looking anyplace else.”

Councilor Bruce Gorecki said, “They both definitely have their hearts in the right places.” He noted Will’s proactive attitude and his listening skills as positive assets.

Councilor Mark Eiden said, “Leadership is a piece that’s important to me. I want the entire department to feel they have a mentor and a leader. Those are my top concerns. I saw how respected Jeff (Beahen) was by the whole department. It needs to be servant leadership. We deal with it (city business) twice a month. The entire (police) department works with it every single day.”

Councilor Shannon Klick agreed, saying, “Dan really articulated well his vision and leadership style. I think he was a little bit ahead in leadership, with his experience and background. He has a vision and a plan. That’s what we need from the top person.”

Councilor Darren Jakel said he sees many similarities between Beahen and Wills. “They’re both leaders who have charisma, and they’re smart,” he said.

Ihli said that when former Chief Jeff Beahen came to Rogers in 2013, “We were not in the best place. We had a lot of issues. It was tough back then. I know what we have in place now. Our police department is top-notch, spectacular. What we’re looking for is someone to take us into the next 10-15 years, and I see that more in Dan.”

Stahmer said he believes the council was looking at two candidates “who absolutely will be successful chiefs at some department.”

He also commended Interim Police Chief Jason Foster’s work since he took over Beahen’s duties in January. “He’s done this job for us before, and he stepped up a lot,” Stahmer said. “Jeff left the department in good standing, and Jason picked it up and improved some things.”

Wills’ background

Wills was hired as a police officer with the Maple Grove Police Department Aug. 17, 1998. Now, as one of three captains in the 150-member Maple Grove Police Department, he oversees 45 officers.

Prior to beginning his career, Wills was a Community Service Officer and a Police Explorer with the Maple Grove Police Department. He was promoted to Police Captain and assigned to the Patrol Division in October 2014. He currently oversees the patrol division and is responsible for the overall operations within that division.

During his tenure with the Maple Grove Police Department, Wills has served as a patrol officer, Field Training Officer, investigator, School Resource Officer, patrol sergeant, administrative sergeant, and Emergency Response Unit Commander. He has supervised the Police Explorer Program, North Metro Range, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, and Safe Streets Unit.

Wills has an Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement from North Hennepin Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Management/Criminal Justice Administration from Metropolitan State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Leadership and Management from Concordia University. He has attended several management and leadership development programs and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session 262, and Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

He served in the M.P. Army Reserves from 1995-2003.

Consultant handled hiring

Following the resignation of former Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen in January, the council approved a proposal from Setter and Associates to conduct a recruitment and hiring process for a new chief. The company specializes in public safety consulting and investigative services.

Search consultant Richard Setter, of Setter and Associates, received 16 applications for the job and subsequently presented five preliminary candidates to city officials.

Initial panel interviews with city staff and professional law enforcement personnel resulted in three finalists being forwarded for consideration by the City Council.

Each member of the City Council conducted a one-on-one interview with each of the three applicants, and determined the two finalists.

At its May 28 meeting, the council discussed the two candidates and then decided to require each to undergo a leadership and management assessment by a third-party psychological consultant.

Requiring such an assessment typically is part of making a job offer to a candidate, Stahmer said.

“It’s not the kind of process we go through for any other position,” Stahmer said then. “When you’re dealing with law enforcement, there’s a higher level of interest and concern to make sure we get it right the first time.”

Gary L. Fischler and Associates, PA, conducted the leadership and management assessments, at a cost of between $700 and $900 per test.

According to an earlier memo to the council, the recruitment and selection process was expected to last two to four months. The work, to be billed at an hourly rate, was expected to amount to between $10,000 and $12,000.

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