Ask Paul Biermaier how he feels about the prospects of becoming Crookston's new police chief – the Crookston City Council still needs to make it official with a vote in favor on Aug. 12 – and he quickly finds a trio of answers that become themes the more he talks about the idea of taking over the reins of the Crookston Police Department: He's excited at the opportunity, he's humbled that the community has the confidence in him to do the job, and he's grateful for the support of the city, friends, colleagues and, most of all, family.
"I am really, really excited for the whole department, which is just a great group of people who know what they're doing," Biermaier told the Times Wednesday. "It's just a strong group of people."
Biermaier, currently patrol sergeant, was previously detective sergeant at the CPD, where he's been for 23 years and change. When current Police Chief Tim Motherway, 52, announced earlier this summer that he was retiring as chief to take a regional coordinator position with the National Child Safety Council, the Crookston City Council decided to look internally for a successor with the goal of finding qualified candidates within the department and avoiding an external search for a new chief. Biermaier and longtime CPD Lt. Gene Wisness applied and both were subsequently interviewed this past Monday by a panel consisting of various city officials, council members and the police chiefs from East Grand Forks and Bemidji.
After the interviews, the panel recommended Biermaier for the job, which was offered to him and he accepted. Nothing is official, however, until the council votes in his favor as the new chief, Biermaier stressed when talking to the Times.
"I'm thankful to the council and staff for having the confidence in the department to look internally first," Biermaier said.
He's also thankful for the opportunity to work side-by-side with Motherway, who will stay on the job until October. "There are things I'm not aware of, just the number of contacts Tim has, and the network of chiefs in the area that he works with," Biermaier said. "I'm sure there are just a number of little things that I need to learn; a police chief is in high demand."
While he calls the CPD a "great team," Biermaier said one of his tasks will be to "branch out" and make sure he establishes a good working relationship not just within the walls of the CPD, but at city hall and elsewhere in the community. "It'll be about developing a comfort level," he explained. Part of establishing and maintaining a certain comfort level is not rocking the boat too much early on, too, Biermaier stressed. "It'll be about staying the course for the most part and not trying to fix what isn't broken," he said. "You won't see any drastic news from the department on your front page."
Page 2 of 2 - Biermaier has a long list of thank-yous, but for now, he said he wants to make sure his wife, Karen, and their family know how much he appreciates their support. "They've been behind me all these years with their constant support," he said. "I don't think I'd be at this spot without (Karen)."
Once the council makes it official makes it official Aug. 12, Biermaier knows the honeymoon period will be over and it'll be time to get to work. "I've taken several deep breaths over the past couple days," he said. "Next, it'll be time to find my way and get started. This will be a good thing."