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Wendy Reuer, Published January 31 2012

Dilworth elects Pine River police chief

DILWORTH – It came down to experience and education over hometown advantage for the City Council here when picking a new police chief.

The council selected Pine River (Minn.) Police Chief Joshua Ebert for the post in a special meeting Tuesday.

Council members had interviewed the two finalists last week: Ebert and the city’s interim chief, Hunter Rawson, an investigator.

Rawson has been serving as acting police chief since June, when Dave Miller left to take the police chief job in Canton, S.D. Ebert has been police chief for eight years in Pine River, a town of about 950 people roughly 30 miles north of Brainerd.

“(Ebert) does have the eight years, versus the eight months. His education is up there a little more, too,” Councilman Rick Cariveau said before joining in the council’s unanimous vote.

Ebert earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth in behavioral science and said Tuesday he plans to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Rawson earned his law enforcement certificate from the State of Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

Neither Ebert nor Rawson attended the meeting.

Before Mayor Chad Olson made the motion to hire Ebert, Councilwoman Julie Nash said she favored hiring Rawson.

“I think he’s done a good job stepping up to the plate with his interim role. Obviously both candidates are equally able to fill this role,” Nash said, though she later voted for Ebert.

Councilman Jim Aasness served on the hiring committee that sought chief applicants. The city went through three rounds of accepting applications and initially was hoping to have a new hire in place Aug. 1.

Aasness worked alongside Rawson in the Police Department while serving as a part-time officer for 20 years before retiring in 2006. Like the other council members, Aasness said it was a difficult decision between candidates. He said he felt Ebert’s experience and education were what captured his vote.

Ebert will be paid about $63,400 per year, with a review in six months. At that time, Ebert could qualify for a raise and would make about $65,400.

The city’s Police Department consists of four full-time officers, not including the chief, as well as two part-time officers and a secretary.

Council members decided not to entertain a motion to pay for Ebert’s moving expenses.

Ebert said Tuesday the city has been hit hard in the recent recession, and he was looking for more opportunities for him and his family in Dilworth.

“I’m looking for certainly a department that will offer some professional growth as well as an opportunity to get involved in more events,” Ebert said. “I’m somewhat limited here.”

Ebert is expecting to begin work in Dilworth around March 1. At that time, Rawson can continue his role as an investigator with the department.

Ebert said he doesn’t believe there will be any problems supervising a fellow finalist for the job.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530