LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Thursday that he has chosen a Port of San Diego police official to lead the State Patrol, an agency plagued by allegations that it mishandled internal investigations and didn’t properly respond to possible misconduct against female recruits.
Ricketts said he has picked Harbor Police Department Chief John Bolduc as the patrol’s new superintendent. Bolduc will replace former Col. Brad Rice, whom Ricketts fired on June 30 after the governor learned about alleged impropriety within the agency.
Bolduc, 52, was chosen in a national search conducted by a former federal prosecutor, a retired FBI executive, a county public defender and Omaha’s police chief. He said he plans to meet with patrol members to listen to their concerns in an effort to help the troubled agency recover.
“The people of Nebraska pay for and deserve outstanding public safety service,” Bolduc said at a news conference. “We will provide that service.”
The patrol faces heavy scrutiny for a series of recent scandals, including allegations that senior patrol officials failed to report cases of trooper misconduct to an outside agency and downplayed an incident where a South Dakota man was killed in a high-speed chase.
In another instance, the patrol allegedly mishandled a case involving a trooper who was shown on video striking an intoxicated man in the head with a rifle butt after the man ignored orders to get on the ground.
The patrol also faces a federal lawsuit alleging that female recruits were forced to undergo sexually invasive, medically unnecessary exams that weren’t required of men. The lawsuit contends patrol officials didn’t adequately respond to one recruit’s complaint that she was forced to expose her vagina to a doctor during a mandatory pre-employment physical.
Bolduc currently oversees an independent department that serves San Diego Bay with 170 team members and a $38 million annual budget. He previously served as a police chief in Brainerd and Mora, Minnesota, and has worked in law enforcement since 1986.
Bolduc will formally begin his new duties on Oct. 16. He will earn $150,000 a year.
Ricketts said he chose Bolduc because of his reputation for improving the agencies he manages. During his time in California, Bolduc established a partnership with the U.S. State Department to train overseas law enforcement officers in port security. He also helped create a program that connects homeless people on the waterfront with services, and built the port into a leader in emergency planning.
In Brainerd, Bolduc implemented a strategic plan to reduce crime with a combination of new technology, community outreach efforts and new policies. On his resume, he said the policy resulted in a 38 percent drop in crime over five years.
“He has a lot of experience to improve how we operate,” Ricketts said.
Bolduc holds a master of science in organizational leadership from National University in San Diego and a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. He also is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, who chaired the search committee, said Bolduc showed strong problem-solving skills when questioned by committee members. Schmaderer said he quizzed Bolduc about how he would handle a series of hypothetical law enforcement situations.
“I was just instantly impressed by his approach to every single one of them,” Schmaderer said.
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