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City welcomes Bryan Schafer as new police chief

Bryan Schafer will begin his new position as Hastings Chief of Police Nov. 4. Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx

It’s official: Hastings has a new chief of police. Although he won’t start working here until Nov. 4, Bryan Schafer was appointed to the position Monday evening by the Hastings City Council.

Schafer, 49, comes to Hastings from the Minneapolis Police Department, where he has served since 1991. He is currently an Inspector and the commander of the First Precinct station; before that he was commander of the Second Precinct.

“Bryan’s previous experience as an inspector… we felt that was a good match for what we would be expecting of a chief in Hastings,” said Hastings City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee.

Becoming a police chief has been Schafer’s goal since he first got into law enforcement, he said. He’s been an officer in Rawlins, Wyo., was county sheriff in Laramie, Wyo., and served as a part time police chief in Roberts, Wis., before joining the Minneapolis Police Department. It was a matter of good timing with the position in Hastings opened.

“Sometimes things just line up,” Schafer said.

Schafer already has a degree of familiarity with Hastings. A Winona native, he used to travel through Hastings frequently in his youth, and the city hasn’t lost its appeal. Hastings really embodies what it is to be a river town, he said, and for him it’s the perfect-sized city.

What makes Hastings just the right fit is the people here, he said.

“It’s about community,” he said.

While his experience at the Minneapolis Police Department was an incredible one, he said, there was a piece missing: people in the city come and go so quickly that it’s hard to develop the sort of community that exists in Hastings.

As he gets ready to step into his new position here, Schafer is looking forward to interacting with the community and developing partnerships, he said.


Schafer has already proved himself to be an effective community collaborator. He was assigned as commander of the newly centralized Minneapolis juvenile unit in 2006, a unit that focused on juvenile crime. Schafer worked with community and criminal justice partners to influence juvenile justice reform in Hennepin County, which led to significant decreases in juvenile violent crime. His peers awarded him the 2007 Leadership Award and the 2009 Gary P. Hayes Memorial Award.

Also in 2009, he received the IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award for promoting a standard of excellence that exemplifies law enforcement’s contribution and dedication to the quality of life in local communities.

During his time commanding the Second Precinct, Schafer strengthened partnerships with the community and businesses, which resulted in the Second Precinct leading the city in crime reduction in 2012.

The hiring process

Schafer was one of 39 applicants for the Hastings police chief position. He was one of six candidates who had an initial interview in August with three panels of community, city staff, Public Safety Advisory Commission and city council members.

The first interviews narrowed the field to three candidates, who were invited back to the finalist process, which involved a leadership assessment and another interview, this one conducted by the Public Safety Committee of the city council, the city administrator and assistant city administrator. Finalist interviews were held Sept. 4.

After the finalist interviews, the city did reference checks on all three finalists, and on Oct. 1, the Public Safety Committee met to review the results and make a recommendation to the full council. The committee unanimously chose Schafer.

“Bryan has emerged as a top candidate by all the panels and we’re very excited to welcome him on board,” Mesko Lee said.

The full council unanimously agreed to appoint Schafer with a starting salary of $102,923.13.

Schafer will start work here Nov. 4. The delay allows him time to wrap up his work in Minneapolis and gives his employer there adequate time to respond to the vacancy. Hastings staff had anticipated a two- to four-week delay, said Mesko Lee.

“We’re very comfortable with the schedule,” she said.