FARGO — The Fargo Police Department announced Friday afternoon, July 2, its appointment of Lt. Travis Stefonowicz to the new position of assistant police chief.
He will be joined in the executive leadership team under Police Chief David Zibolski's newly reorganized department by Joe Anderson as deputy chief of the neighborhood services division, Chris Helmick as the captain of the criminal investigations division and George Vinson as the captain of the professional standards division.
A panel of community members, city staff and law enforcement officials helped make the selections. In an interview with The Forum, Zibolski said he agreed with each of their choices.
The police chief, who has been on the job for nine months, said in a video statement that he couldn't wait to start working with the new executive team on large-scale projects, including officer wellness programs and career development.
He said the newly promoted men would be leading the department "now and into its future."
Stefonowicz has been a sworn officer in the department for 19 years and has been overseeing the training and development unit. He was employed at the Red River Regional Dispatch Center before joining the police department and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Anderson, who has been serving as one of the deputy chiefs for several years, will continue as a deputy chief in the neighborhood division. He recently led the committee to research body cameras for the department, which officers will begin wearing in August.
Anderson has been with the department since January 1997 and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He worked for the Cass County Sheriff's Office for two years before joining the Fargo Police Department.
Helmick served as acting captain and manages the investigations division. He joined the department in 2002 and has administered the police training program for more than a decade.
Vinson, a 17-year veteran of the department, had been overseeing the professional accountability unit as a lieutenant. He has also served as a patrol officer, dog handler and school resource officer leader. In his new role, he will continue to enforce department policies for officers, oversee training and recognize officers for their contributions.
The four newly promoted leadership team members will be sworn in at a special ceremony on July 12 in the Fargo City Hall Commission Chambers.
The Fargo Police Department used a new promotion process to recruit its leadership team. The chief called upon Fargo city staff, community members and law enforcement associates from his time in Wisconsin. In doing so, Zibolski said he aimed to get away from the "insular" process the department used in the past.
Zibolski said he wanted a more "open process," so he asked for help from outside experts and community members and formed two panels.
Many police departments across the country use a similar process in making promotions, he said.