So, he set out to change it.
It’ll be in full view this Friday afternoon when the selection of two police department captains and the assistant chief will be announced as part of his reorganization of the department to “put the right people in the right roles.”
In the new promotion process, Zibolski called on other city staff, community members and law enforcement associates he knows from his days in Wisconsin to help with the interviews. In doing so, he aimed to get away from the “insular” or internal selection process used in the past.
The chief said he couldn’t find a set process for promoting employees in the department when looking through data and talking with staff.
He was told it was often done through people who were “friends or associates” of the top administration.
Zibolski said he wanted a more “open process,” so he asked for help from “outside experts and community members” and formed two panels.
The goal was to have an “objective” assessment of the candidates.
Many police departments across the country use a similar process in making promotions, he said.
Five employees applied and were interviewed for the three open positions, and those selected will be informed this Friday, July 2, with a public announcement made shortly afterward.
They will be sworn in during a promotion ceremony in City Hall on July 12.
Although it doesn’t always happen, Zibolski said he agreed with all three recommendations from the committees.
He said members of the “executive team” will have important roles in the department as they continue to work on short-term and long-term goals.
The chief said he wanted to have the leaders selected on the basis of their “character and competence.”
All five applicants had face-to-face interviews, submitted written essays and made an oral presentation to the panels, which both included Zibolski and the department’s human resources director.
One of the panels, which focused on the captains, included Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen, Homeless Outreach Coordinator Jillian Gould, Assistant City Administrator Mike Redlinger, West Fargo Police Chief Denis Otterness and community organizer and Black Lives Matter leader Faith Shields-Dixon.
Zibolski said he was aware there might be some controversy with selecting the outspoken Shields-Dixon as she had a run-in with Moorhead police during a traffic stop and helped lead many protests. As for her actions during the traffic stop, he said, some people aren’t familiar with what to do when they are stopped, such as knowing to pull over to the right side of the road.
Additionally, the department “can’t leave out a piece of our community,” he said of Shields-Dixon’s service on the panel.
“We have to be responsive to the public,” he said. “There’s not a group or person we won’t work with if they are willing to work with us.”
One of the chief’s goals has been to help make the city more “inclusive” and the department more accountable and transparent to the community.
The other panel, which helped select the assistant chief, included retired Fond Du Lac (Wis.) Police Chief Tony Barthuly, Dirksen, Otterness, Redlinger and Beloit (Wis.) Police Inspector Thomas Stigler.
Zibolski said he brought the Wisconsin law officers on board because he knows they share “similar philosophies” to his own on leadership skills and other issues, and they brought an “outside perspective” to the hiring.
Each of those law officers on the panel have more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement.
In the future, Zibolski said, he may use similar panels in promotions of sergeants and lieutenants
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