Petersburg Police Chief Jim Agner and Petersburg Police Sergeant Heidi Agner announced their intention to retire at the end of May.
“Jim and Heidi Agner have put in for their official retirement,” Petersburg Borough Mayor Mark Jensen stated. “This will be effective as of May and the Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht would like to use a firm that he is familiar with to conduct the process of replacing the police chief.”
The hiring of the firm will cost $7,500 up front and a total of up to $30,000 for their services.
The firm of Brimeyer Fursman, LLC, out of Minnesota has worked with Giesbrecht in the past and he is comfortable with them helping with this very important position.
“They will come to Petersburg, first of all, to basically interview with the assembly, the department heads and the chief in particular to develop a position profile,” Giesbrecht stated. “This profile will determine what we are looking for and what we need beyond just a job description.”
According to Giesbrecht, the firm will try to track down people that might have an interest in this type of position in this type of community.
“They will do all of the screening interviews, the background checks and narrow the selection down to five to seven potential candidates,” Giesbrecht stated. “We will then narrow that selection down to the people that we want to bring here to Petersburg for formal interviews.”
The consultants will then come here and help with the interview process and help, as much as allowed, with the decision making process.
“They will also come back in six to 12 months and help with the performance appraisal of the new chief,” Giesbrecht said. “If we decide we made a bad decision, they will begin the process all over again at no charge except for travel expenses.”
According to Giesbrecht, the replacement of the police chief is very important.
“The Chief is well respected here and we have some unique challenges to work with,” Giesbrecht stated.
Assembly member John Hoag had questions regarding other firms that could possibly handle this endeavor better.
“I question if there has been consideration to have requests for proposals from other firms,” Hoag asked. “I know there are firms out there that specialize in law enforcement placement.”
Giesbrecht answered that there are firms that could specialize but time was a concern.
“The Agners will be leaving these positions the end of May and while that may seem like a long time, when we get into this process it could extend it by a couple of months,” Giesbrecht stated. “I did informally check with three other firms and the cost was about the same.”
Brimeyer Fursman is based out of Minnesota and specializes in towns fewer than 50,000 to places even smaller than Petersburg in a part of the country that is equally hard to recruit to such as Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and the Dakotas. These are all areas with interesting weather like Alaska.
Assembly member John Havrilek suggested the Borough Assembly try to take this task on themselves.
“It may be that I am cheap, but $30,000 seems like a lot of money,” Havrilek stated. “I really have a lot of faith in Chief Agner and he really has this place in great shape. I would really like to see the Chief very involved in picking a replacement because he knows what we need and I would like to think we could do this on our own.”
According to Giesbrecht, the time constraints make it impossible for this to be done in-house.
“Replacing the Chief will be a daunting task by itself but the skill set alone will make this impossible to be done on our own,” Giesbrecht stated. “We need someone that is socially adept to become a part of the community and not just be a police chief.”
Geisbrecht explained that this is a small community and very remote. A police chief is wanted that can interact with the community, be out in the public, not just in a law enforcement capacity but also be a face for the community.
“We could do an advertisement and we would have a lot of people respond,” Giesbrecht said. “We would then spend a tremendous amount of time trying to go through them and find out which of them are serious. I am concerned with the time and we can’t go too long without someone in Chief Agner’s position.”
Chief Agner spoke of the time issue in agreement with the Borough Manager.