Continuing to serve others in retirement

Maple Grove Police Chief David Jess to retire May 30

Maple Grove Police Chief David Jess will be ending his 30-year career May 30.

He has been with the Maple Grove Police Department for 29 of those years. The department has more than 115 employees.

“I have been trying to take a step back and tried to take in all of these moments in these last days as chief,” Jess said.

Looking back, Jess said he remembers the pride that he has in the people that work for the department. He said values and mission have been set in the department and employees show up every day with those values in mind. Value number one is hard work. Value number two is honesty. Value number 3 is treat others how you want to be treated. Chief Jess added value number four, go out there and make a difference in someone’s life.

Maple Grove Police Chief David Jess will be retiring effective May 30. He has been with the department for 29 years and has served as police chief since 2011.
Maple Grove Police Chief David Jess will be retiring effective May 30. He has been with the department for 29 years and has served as police chief since 2011.

“That’s what they do,” he said. “I’m so proud of them. I get so many cards and letters and emails from the community where officers have really touched somebody in that way.”

The officers have also been willing to follow the leaders in the department and provide a high level of service as well, Chief Jess added.

“I never thought I would end up in this office,” he said. “It was never a goal, but I’m the type of person that is always looking for the next challenge and it kind of happened.”

Jess has carried on previous Police Chief Mona Dohman’s traditions. “I say Maple Grove has something special going on, not just the police, but the entire city,” he added.


Being Chief

Jess became the police chief in 2011 after former Chief Dohman left the department to in March 2011 to become the Commissioner of Public Safety for the state.

He said Dohman spent a lot of time mentoring him with “tremendous leadership.” Dohman started with Maple Grove the year before him.

“Mona and I really complimented each other,” he said. “ She came up the investigative, administrative side of the department where I came up the patrol side. I think better decisions were made because we both came from different sides of the police department.”

He added, “It was easy for me to come into this position and keep the care and compassion piece of the police department going. Mona had set the stage with her goals, which she didn’t get to finish. But there is always room for improvement.”

The department is working on improvement and preparing the crime fighting philosophy (intelligence-lead policing), which has been Jess’ number one priority. He said Maple Grove has low crime, but the department “shoulders that responsibility to keep it that way.”

Chief Jess said his fondest memory as chief has been his staff that comes into work everyday with smiles on their faces and anxious to help others and serve people. “That’s what I want as chief,” he added.


Previous positions, education

At age 18, he started at Alexandria Technical College with Dohman, where he got his two-year degree.

Jess spent his first year out of school with the Wayzata Police Department. In 1985 then Maple Grove Police Chief Bob Burlingame called the Wayzata Police Chief Dave Brehm to give him a heads up about the opening and wanted to ask Jess to fill that position.

Jess said there were more opportunities for him with the Maple Grove department. There was an education incentive, where Jess was able to get money to go towards a degree program. He then got his four-year degree from Metro State and a masters degree from St. Thomas University.

During his time with the department, he has served as a patrol officer, investigator, patrol sergeant, emergency response unit commander and patrol captain. “I have worked every assignment with the exception of school liaison, DARE and K9,” Jess said. In 2003 he was a captain.

In 2005 Jess was appointed to the position of Deputy Police Chief. He was the first person in this position, promoted by Dohman. “I remember her coming into my office and asking, ‘So does it feel?’ and I looked at her and said I didn’t have any idea how I ended up here,” Jess said. “She said, ‘I do. There were two things, hard work and you never said no.’ I thought wow.”

Then in 2011, he became police chief.


Decision to Retire

The decision to retire wasn’t an easy one for Chief Jess, or necessarily one he planned to make so quickly after becoming chief. He had plan to be chief for five years.

There were changes in the PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota) pensions to fully fund it. The changes to the system include increasing penalties for early retirement and eliminate cost of living raises for the first three years of retirement. Jess said he would have made less money if he stayed.

“I wanted to stay,” he said. “It wasn’t my plan to leave. That’s what makes this a little more bitter sweet. It’s hard to say goodbye to a crew that has been here for so long.”


Looking forward

Chief Jess said retirement is his way of moving on to the next chapter of his life. As of now he doesn’t have any major plans for retirement. “I just need some time to get back some balance in my life,” he said. “These are very demanding jobs and careers, which is why I am attracted to it. It’s what I liked about it, but it’s time to put a little bit more attention to family.”

He will be volunteering for the group Helping Paws. The group helps train service dogs for people.

Jess said he wanted to be an obedience trainer for a dog’s first year, but instead he will helping to continue training of the dogs while the main trainer is on vacation. “I get to care for the dogs and training them for a day up to a few weeks,” he added.

This is a way for Jess to “continue serving others.”

Rosemount Police Chief Eric Werner has been chosen to following in Jess’ footsteps as the new police chief. “Chief Werner is going to be an excellent chief,” Jess said. He added Werner would do well here and the organization will be in good hands.

“I value the people here,” Jess said. “Not only in the police department, the fire department and city hall. This city is so fortunate they really have a team working for them. We really have something special here. I will miss everybody.”

Chief Jess will be recognized for his 30-year career in law enforcement Friday, May 30, with a program at the Maple Grove Government Center.