Five finalists named for next Blaine Police Chief

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.

The list of candidates is down to five for the person who will lead the Blaine Police Department. The community has the chance to meet them Oct. 16.

The candidates are Mark Bruley (deputy chief of police for the city of Brooklyn Park), Brian Podany (commander of the patrol division for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office), John Swenson (director of the Lino Lakes Public Safety Department), Dan Szykulski (interim safety services manager/police chief of the Blaine Police Department) and Kathy Waite (fifth precinct inspector for the Minneapolis Police Department).

A meet and greet event with the finalists will be held Monday, Oct. 16, 5:30 to 7 p.m., in the atrium of Blaine City Hall, 10801 Town Square Drive NE. City Manager Clark Arneson said community members are welcome to contact him, the mayor or a council member to share their thoughts on any of the five candidates.

The five finalists will also have breakfast with the council and meet with current Blaine Police Department staff, according to Arneson. The heads of all city departments will also interview the candidates, with Arneson sitting in, before Arneson conducts the final interviews.

Arneson makes the final hiring decision after weighing in the input from others.

Former Police Chief Chris Olson retired in June after serving in the Blaine Police Department for 27 years, which included nine years as the chief of police and the safety services manager.

Blaine selected Strategic Government Resources to find candidates and help narrow the list. Larry Boyd, who retired in 2016 as chief of police in Irving, Texas, led the search.

The city of Blaine received 46 applicants from individuals in 13 states.

“In my opinion we received an excellent field of candidates,” Arneson said.

The finalists

Mark Bruley’s law enforcement career has been with the Brooklyn Park Police Department. He was hired in 1995 and has held the ranks of officer, sergeant, lieutenant, inspector and has been the deputy chief of police since 2014. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Capella University.

Brian Podany has also been with the same department for his entire career, dating back to 1995. He currently serves as commander of the patrol division of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, but has also been a special deputy, deputy, major crimes detective, lieutenant and captain. Podany holds a master’s degree in public safety administration and a bachelor’s degree in police science from St. Mary’s University.

John Swenson has more than 28 years of public safety experience. Since 2011, he has served as the public safety director for the Lino Lakes Public Safety Department. He previously held the position of captain for the White Bear Lake Police Department. He served with the Minneapolis Police Department for 13 years and was a military police officer in the U.S. Army/Minnesota National Guard. He holds a master’s degree in organizational management and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Concordia University.

Dan Szykulski was appointed to be the interim police chief and public safety manager after Olson retired in June. He began his career with the Blaine Police Reserves in 1984 and has stayed with the Blaine Police Department ever since. He became a sworn officer in 1988. He has advanced through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of captain in 2014. Szykulski earned an associates degree from North Hennepin Community College.

Kathy Waite has more than 20 years in law enforcement. The Minneapolis Police Department hired her in 1995 and she has held the ranks of officer, sergeant and lieutenant in various divisions and units. She previously served as second precinct inspector and special operations lieutenant, but is currently the fifth precinct inspector. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Hamline University.

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Mark Bruley, Brooklyn Park PD Brian Podany, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office John Swenson, Lino Lakes Public Safety Department Dan Szykulski, Blaine Police Department Kathy Waite, Minneapolis Police Department
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John Swenson, Lino Lakes Public Safety Department