Brainerd names new police chief

The Brainerd City Council approved the promotion of John Davis to police chief during there meeting Monday evening.

John Davis
John Davis

BRAINERD — The Brainerd Police Department will have a new police chief in June.

Current Deputy Chief John Davis was approved by the Brainerd City Council Monday, March 20, to be the city’s next police chief.

“I’m humbled to be selected as the next police chief,” Davis wrote in an email to the Dispatch Monday evening. “I’m going to work hard to build upon all the great things Mike Bestul has accomplished. The women and men of the Brainerd Police Department are what makes this organization truly outstanding, and I’m honored to be a part of their team.”

A man and a woman sitting at a desk
Brainerd Police Chief Mike Bestul, left, talks with Toni Gage, Brainerd's administrative specialist, before the council meeting Monday, March 20, 2023, at Brainerd City Hall.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

The promotion will be effective June 3, the day after current Police Chief Mike Bestul’s retirement, and Davis agreed to Step 3 of the police chief wage grid or $54.18 per hour.

Bestul said he was talking to Davis the other day and was glad a couple of Brainerd lakes area natives were able to be police chiefs in the town they grew up in.


“I think that John shows the qualities that we're really looking for as the next police chief,” Bestul said after Monday’s meeting. “Who woulda thunk that we'd both be chiefs. I can't think of a better person to lead us in the future.”

Hired as a patrol officer with the Brainerd Police Department in 2005, Davis has more than 30 years of public safety experience in Crow Wing County, including 13 years as a paramedic working for Crosby Ambulance, North Memorial Health Ambulance and North Memorial Health Air Care.

Davis was promoted to deputy police chief in 2021 and previously worked as a narcotics investigator, a member of the Crow Wing County Tactical Response Team and a field training officer within the department, to name a few positions.

In 2007, Davis was Brainerd’s police officer of the year and in 2008 he was awarded the distinguished service award.

Davis was not present during the council meeting Monday night.

With Bestul set to retire in June, two police department employees applied to the position to be his successor. Davis and Sgt. Paul Dooley responded to the internal job posting and interviewed for the position.

Brainerd City Council members created a committee tasked with overseeing the interview and promotion process. Council members Gabe Johnson and Kara Terry sat on the committee, along with City Administrator Jennifer Bergman and Human Resources Director Kris Schubert.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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