New Fargo police chief approved; start date unclear as screening process continues

Beloit, Wis., police chief David Zibolski must undergo a more extensive background check and pass medical and psychological examinations before he assumes leadership of the Fargo Police Department. The process could take three to six weeks, city officials said.

IMG_8834[1].JPG Hagen 2020 photo
Fargo Police Chief finalist David Zibolski, of Beloit, Wisc., answers questions during a mock press conference Thursday, Aug. 20. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

FARGO — City commissioners unanimously approved the hiring of a Wisconsin police chief to take over the Fargo Police Department on Monday night, Aug. 24, but it'll be a month or more before it's official.

David Zibolski, 54, who underwent a two-day assessment in Fargo last week, has been the police chief of Beloit, Wis., since 2015 and spent 27 years with the Milwaukee Police Department, where he attained the rank of captain.

He was unanimously recommended by a 15-member panel of city residents last Thursday, which followed a daylong process at the police department, where employees also thought Zibolski would be the best choice.

City Human Resources Director Jill Minette said the reason for the delay in Zibolski's start date and final approval is that, as with other officers hired by the department, he must undergo a more extensive background check and pass medical and psychological examinations.


Thus, the city has not set a starting date for Zibolski. Minette said the check and exams could take from three to six weeks.

Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, who was on the selection panel, said if he had one word to describe the new chief it would be "thorough."

"He'll be an excellent addition to the city," he added.

The panel agreed. In grading the three finalists last Thursday after a series of daylong interviews and discussions, out of a possible 100% score, Zibolski received 93%. The other two longtime police leaders and finalists Stacy Kelly of Scottsdale, Ariz., earned a 70% score and John Franklin of Chicago 65%.

Zibolski will replace David Todd, who led the 180-employee department starting in 2014 and had been with the department since 1987. The department staff includes 24 office workers, 40 detectives and 116 patrol and commanding officers.

He will be paid a starting salary of $159,464, while Todd's ending salary was $171,371. Zibolski currently makes $146,142 per year in Beloit.

Zibolski will be the first external candidate tapped to lead the department since former chief Chris Magnus, who served from 1999 to 2006 before taking a job in California. Two other chiefs since that time, Keith Ternes and David Todd, have been promoted from within.


Deputy Chief Ross Renner is serving as interim chief.

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