Outsider selected to lead troubled Nebraska State Patrol

State Trooper (NET News/Archive Image)
September 7, 2017 - 5:07pm

The Nebraska State Patrol has a new leader.

John Bolduc, age 52, was introduced at a news conference by Gov. Pete Ricketts Thursday. Bolduc is currently the chief of police for The Port of San Diego. The agency polices the busy shipping and cruise liner hub in southern California as well as the city’s international airport. He has held that position since 2010. (Click HERE to read Bolduc's biography)

Bolduc (left) is introduced by Gov. Ricketts (Photo: Bill Kelly/NET News)

He also served with three law enforcement agencies in Minnesota, Brainerd, Mora and Maple Grove, during his 30 year career.

In his prepared statement Ricketts said “the State Patrol has a long and distinguished history with troopers that have served with honor and integrity, and John will protect and build that tradition.” 

In the past year the patrol was beset by a series of embarrassing headlines involving alleged inappropriate use of force by troopers, out-of-date bullet-proof vests, and high-level interference with internal investigations.

Ricketts fired the previous superintendent, Bradley Rice, and an FBI investigation of the patrol’s conduct may still be underway. Three other members of the command staff are on suspension and remain off active duty.

Bulduc takes over the office in mid-October. During his first meeting with Nebraska reporters he said he understands there are problems facing the state’s highest profile law enforcement agency “and the challenges that may be evident here may evident here may not be totally dissimilar from other organizations.”

In response to a reporter’s question, Ricketts made a point of noting Bolduc, in his previous positions, had been hired as an outsider for the purpose of reform.

“In his previous positions he was the one who came in from the outside to address different opportunities to improve those organization,” Ricketts said. He noted in San Diego Bolduc “had the opportunity to improve the way they do their policing.”

The statement released by the Governor’s office listed five accomplishments achieved during Bolduc’s term of service in San Diego:

  • Establishing a partnership between Harbor Police and the State Department for training of overseas law enforcement in port security.
  • Addressing homelessness on the waterfront through an outreach partnership with the Alpha Project to connect people with services.
  • Transforming the Harbor Police Department to into an intelligence-led policing model, a combination of technology and people working in concert to address crime and quality-of-life issues.
  • Port resilience and emergency planning which has made his agency a leader among ports.
  • Focusing on talent acquisition and development through hiring and promoting people at all levels.

Asked how he would approach addressing the issues in Nebraska, Bolduc said he would start by being “an active listener” who needs “to listen to the troopers and the staff, the community, the administration, anybody who is willing to talk to me about the challenges and the opportunities” ahead for the patrol.

“Law enforcement officers are the best problem solvers on the planet,” Bolduc added. “Sometimes we create some of our own problems but we can overcome those by working together.”

Ricketts did not choose any of the current leadership team within the patrol, nor was it clear if any internal candidates had shown an interest. He refused to reveal the number of candidates or speak directly to the selection process.

Weysan Dun, retired FBI special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha Division and member of the search committee, said the group was unanimous in its endorsement of Bolduc to the governor.

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