PFC appoints Alexander chief
Superior's next police chief is a 16-year veteran of the department. Deputy Chief Nick Alexander rose to the top among three candidates vying to lead the Superior Police Department during interviews with the Police and Fire Commission late last week.
Superior’s next police chief is a 16-year veteran of the department.
Deputy Chief Nick Alexander rose to the top among three candidates vying to lead the Superior Police Department during interviews with the Police and Fire Commission late last week.
"At one point, he even came across as kind of emotional in that he would even have a chance at becoming chief of police for the city of Superior," said Commissioner Charlie Glazman, president of the commission. "That kind of struck me as someone I could relate to, someone that has heart."
Alexander joined the Superior Police Department as a patrol officer in August 1998. He rose through the ranks, becoming an acting sergeant, and later patrol sergeant, before becoming the commander of the department’s joint Forensic Computer Technology and Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, a multi-agency task force that includes Duluth, Douglas County and St. Louis County law enforcement officers.
Three years ago, Alexander was named deputy chief responsible for overseeing the department’s investigations division.
Over the years, he’s served in a number of collateral assignments including the department’s emergency response team, computer forensic analysis, internet crimes, vice and narcotics investigator, K-9 program supervisor and coordinator, field training officer, evidence technician and coordinator, computer voice stress analyst and payroll.
At age 43, Alexander - the son of a retired Duluth police officer - will be sworn as Superior’s next chief. He takes over in that role when Police Chief Charles LaGesse retires at the end of the year.
Alexander earned a degree in numerical and computational math with a minor in computer science from the University of Minnesota Duluth, but still found himself drifting to a career in law enforcement after working security for Kmart and loss prevention for Super One.
Alexander admits when he was a new officer sitting in a squad 16 years ago, he didn’t foresee becoming the city’s police chief - then he was focused on being a good officer - but progressive leadership roles have prepared him for the job.
"I just enjoyed increasing my circle of influence and gaining the respect and confidence of the men and women," Alexander said. It’s fellow officers he credits with his successes over the years.
Among the things that left commissioners with a lasting impression was the support received by the city’s Human Resources Department from police officers, and Alexander’s own initiative to get out in the community to talk to leaders to get their perspectives on the issues facing the city, Glazman said.
CASDA director Kelly Burger said Alexander contacted her a week or two before the interviews to find out if there were ways the police department could improve on its partnerships with the organization that provides advocacy and shelter to victims of domestic, child and sexual abuse. Burger said while there was nothing she wanted to tweak in those relationships, she did mention the lack of police leadership with decision-making ability at one of the organization’s task force meetings; Alexander attended the next meeting.
"I am very impressed," Burger said. "… I think he will be fabulous. I think he has a great personality. I think he likes people; you can tell that when you get to know Nick."
Alexander said he reached out to the community leaders - the superintendent of schools, the Chamber, Burger and other police chiefs - because the process to become chief was thought-provoking and required research, information that would help him as deputy chief even if he hadn’t been selected to lead the department.
There were many aspects in which Alexander’s strengths as a candidate shone through for Commissioner Dean Hecht - support from department officers and answers to supplemental questions provided to the commission.
"Once in the interview, I thought his breadth and depth of answers was very strong," Hecht said. "And I thought his communication skills were very strong and I thought his vision of the future for the department and community was very strong. Putting all those together, it was pretty easy for me to recommend Nick.
"He said ‘I consider it a contract that I’m going to live up to; you have my word on that,’" Hecht said referring to his notes from Thursday evening’s interview. "That was pretty impressive."
Alexander said his goal as the city’s next chief is to work within the department and with the community to take the Superior Police Department from a very good law enforcement agency to a great one - to be a department that other agencies look to as doing things right.
Among his goals is enhancing diversity within the department.
"Part of our strategy is to broaden our scope of advertising, to areas that have more diverse population … to attract more qualified diverse candidates," Alexander said. But he still wants to encourage qualified local and second career candidates as well.
Mayor Bruce Hagen said he sat in on the interviews and all three candidates - including 32-year veteran Detective Joe Krieg and 23-year veteran Deputy Chief Matt Markon, all well-qualified for the position.
"I think he’s going to bring a great perspective to the department," Hagen said of Alexander. "He’s very solid. I think he has the respect of the officers, and myself. I think he’s going to prove to be a very good chief of police."
"He’s very well rounded and his experience over the years, it was definitely a good choice," said Councilor Mike Herrick, the council representative on the PFC.
Alexander would like to enhance the department’s engagement in the community as a way of building trust with the community the agency serves.
"I believe events both nationally and some locally certainly help to erode some people’s trust in the department, and I would like the public to be confident that we have a caring and compassionate police department with men and women who are dedicated to going out there and do good work … and to treat everyone fairly, with dignity and respect. That’s important to me … I would like to see us improve our standing with the public."
LaGesse said Alexander is both analytical and empathetic, with strong communication skills.
"I’m happy to see Nick Alexander appointed as chief of police," LaGesse said. "He has a unique set of experiences as the commander of our forensic crime task force, experience in grant management and preparation, and a unique set of investigative experiences because of his assignment as deputy chief of investigations. He has a very good standing in the community; he’s a person that’s very easy to talk to and I think he will be received very well by the officers of our department and the public. … I wish Chief Alexander and all of the officers of the department success in furthering our department.
"I believe that Nick Alexander is well suited to leading the department forward."