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Wilkinson named new Blackduck police chief

Blackduck Police Officer John Wilkinson was named the new police chief during the Feb. 6 city council meeting. Wilkinson, who has been an officer with the Blackduck Police Dept. since 2008, is shown with Blackduck Mayor Jason Riggs, left and councilmember Corey Veazey.

The Blackduck City Council took the recommendation of the personnel committee during the Feb. 6 regular meeting and named police officer John Wilkinson as the new chief.

Wilkinson, who has been with the police department in Blackduck for the past four years and four months, began his law enforcement as the School Resource Officer in 2007.

"I initially became the SRO anticipating that there would be a full time opening with Blackduck Police Department at a later date or it would be a stepping stone to getting hired with a larger agency" said Wilkinson.

"Being that Blackduck PD is such a small department, I saw the only way to become a supervisor was to one day become the Chief of Police. I didn't anticipate the position becoming open anytime near when it did become open, I have been preparing myself for this position through the additional college courses mentioned above," he added.

Wilkinson attended Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls and received his degree in 2005. He is currently nearing the end of his Master's Degree for Security and Justice Administration through the University of Phoenix. He has been enrolled online for the last three years with this institution.

Was being a police officer what he wanted to be when he grew up? Yes.

"I have always had an interest in law enforcement. My parents knew the local Thief River Falls police officers and the Pennington County Sheriff's deputies, so I had a large amount of interaction with these officers," he said. "In high school, I became a member of the Pennington County Law Enforcement Explorer Post and became the president of the local post while still in high school."

wilkinson grew up in Thief River Falls and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1999. The summer after high school, he left for the United States Marine Corps and served a four year active duty enlistment, with four additional years on inactive ready reserve. He gained the rank of Sergeant while on active duty and was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in March of 2003.

"Prior to becoming a part of the Blackduck force, I received law enforcement experience in the United States Marine Corps where I worked as a Military Police Officer at Camp Lejeune, NC for a period of eight months under the USMC Fleet Augmentation Program." said Wilkinson.

"What this is, is a program where units send an individual to the Base MP Company so the manpower needs can be met for security/law enforcement on the base."

Wilkinson is also a member of the Headwaters SWAT team.

"In May of 2009, I attended Basic SWAT school in Fargo, ND which was put on by the Red River Valley SWAT team."

Wilkinson said he enjoys having a job where an individual can make a difference. Oftentimes, he said, officers do not know if they have stopped an incident from happening, but there are times where it is obvious that an officer has made a difference for an individual who needed assistance.

His plans as the new chief?

"I would like to get things like Neighborhood Watch up and running, bringing those in the community who have outstanding warrants to justice, reduce drug usage and property crimes, and continue to provide as good of a service as Blackduck PD currently provides to the community," he said. "I see the police department helping with Blackduck's campaign as a great place for families by reducing incidence of criminal behavior in the community."

Wilkinson said he would like to hire a part time officer, but will have to meet with the city council to determine whether funding is available and where we could gain the revenue for an additional hire.

He and his wife, Rebecca, have a 10 year old daughter, Anna. In his spare off time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, target shooting, hunting, fishing, camping, rock climbing and scuba diving.

"I would like the public to know that I will be available at anytime they may need to talk about an issue happening in the community," he said.