Weather Forecast


Former Brainerd police chief now San Diego port CEO

John Bolduc

Former Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc was appointed acting chief executive officer of the Port of San Diego last week. Bolduc served in Brainerd from May 2001 to May 2010.

He said in a phone interview Wednesday that he has been invited to apply for the post on a full-time basis but he has not yet decided whether to do so.

In his current role as chief of the Harbor Police Department, he oversaw 158 employees - nearly a third of the port's staff - and an annual budget of $31 million, according to a news release from the port.

Although he didn't have a maritime background when he took his initial San Diego post, Bolduc said leadership skills have been transferable from a small town setting to a larger west coast operation. He said he went through a steep learning curve but the harbor police chief job has primarily been problem solving.

"I've been very pleased with the move," he said.

He said he has returned to Minnesota for fishing in the summer and hunting in the fall. He has a daughter who lives in the Twin Cities.

Bolduc took the oath of office at a special Board of Port Commissioners meeting on Friday, according to the port's news release.

He succeeds Wayne Darbeau, who was appointed as CEO in December 2010.

The Times of San Diego reported that Darbeau was placed on paid administrative leave through the end of this year, at which point he will no longer be employed. According to the news story Darbeau sent an email to the head of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, asking if its members could help in his son's search for a summer job.

Bolduc told the Dispatch there are unique challenges and a need for rapid acclimation anytime there is a sudden transition.

The port's news release stated Bolduc was excellent at motivating people.

"He's an excellent communicator and an inspirational leader. He brings a record of leadership to build on the Port's strong foundation of financial sustainability and integrity," said Chairman Bob Nelson of the Board of Port Commissioners. "We are grateful to have John at the helm during this time of transition and reflection, and we have no doubt he's going to serve the Port well in his new capacity, just as he has so effectively served the public during his entire professional career."

In a statement, Bolduc said "I'm looking forward to moving the Port of San Diego forward with the full support of its Board and executive leadership team, and providing a stable and productive work environment for all of our employees," said Bolduc.

As CEO, Bolduc leads an organization of more than 500 budgeted employees and an annual budget of $145 million, according to the port's news release. The Port of San Diego is an independent public agency created to develop and manage the public trust Tidelands along 34 miles of San Diego Bay.

Bolduc was appointed vice president of Public Safety in July 2011. In this role he oversaw the Port of San Diego's Harbor Police Department, Homeland Security and all port security aspects. Bolduc was hired as the port's chief of Harbor Police in May 2010. Before that, he served in municipal policing for 23 years in Minnesota. He was the police chief for the cities of Brainerd and Mora spanning nearly 13 years. He also served as a police officer and police supervisor for the city of Maple Grove. Bolduc holds a bachelor's degree from Bemidji State University in Minnesota and a master's degree in Organizational Leadership from National University in San Diego. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860