Brainerd officials interview 2 for police chief job

Deputy Police Chief John Davis and Sgt. Paul Dooley are the two candidates to replace Mike Bestul as Brainerd police chief.

Mike Bestul
Mike Bestul
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Brainerd Police Chief Mike Bestul is set to retire in June, and two police department employees have thrown their hats — or rather their badges — in the ring to be his successor.

Deputy Police Chief John Davis and Sgt. Paul Dooley responded to the internal job posting and have interviewed for the position.

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

This hiring process is a deviation from the last time the city looked for a new police chief. After Former Police Chief Corky McQuiston retired in November 2020, the city contracted with David Drown Associates to search for a replacement. The $9,500 search resulted in seven candidates interviewing in front of the full council via video chat during the COVID-19 pandemic, though none of the candidates ended up taking the job.

The council’s first choice was Fargo Lt. George Vinson , who declined the offer, writing in a letter to the council he had no realistic thought of being chosen for the job when he applied.


The second choice was Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun , a native of Brainerd. Baloun declined the job after taking issue with the council’s discussion of his starting salary during a public meeting. At the same time, council members chided consultants with David Drown Associates for posting the job with a large salary range, not specifying a new chief would likely be hired in on the low end of the scale.

More Brainerd City Council coverage

Instead of extending an offer to the next candidate in the council’s Top 3, members extended Bestul’s tenure as acting police chief , a position he was appointed to upon McQuiston’s retirement. Though Bestul did not apply for the chief job, council members officially promoted him to chief in May 2021 instead of reposting the position externally.

The council has since changed the hiring process, allowing city staff to post the position internally before seeking external candidates.

Bestul has 26 years with the Brainerd Police Department under his belt and is set to retire June 16, with June 2 being his last working day.

One candidate interviewed last week, while another interviewed Wednesday, March 15. Bergman said the council would make a decision at one of their next meetings — either Monday, March 20, or the first meeting in April.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
What To Read Next
Get Local