Three years later, work is done
Hermantown Police Chief Dan Perich was ready and eligible to retire in 2003 from a police force he had served with almost since it began. But when Police Chief Terry Ulshafer, as well as the lieutenant chief and the entire administrative staff, r...
Hermantown Police Chief Dan Perich was ready and eligible to retire in 2003 from a police force he had served with almost since it began.
But when Police Chief Terry Ulshafer, as well as the lieutenant chief and the entire administrative staff, retired at almost the same time -- taking with them 100 years of experience -- Perich was asked to stay and help through the transition.
"I decided to stick around to help others here prepare to take over the department," Perich said this week shortly after announcing his retirement to the rest of the department. "And that's been accomplished. I'm very confident that people in this department are ready" for a new chief.
He said he will work through January or February.
But Perich has done more than ease the transition in his time as police chief, city officials say. He's also insisted on continuing education and training for all officers, and made a strong case for increasing the police force even in the face of tight budgets.
"Dan has worked very hard to create a stable department," said Hermantown City Administrator Lynn Lander, who has worked with Perich for about 15 years. "He has prepared this department for the future, including what he demands from management officers and the patrol officers."
At Monday's Hermantown City Council meeting, Lander will recommend that the city hire the next police chief from within the department.
After two years with the military police and a few years with the Proctor Police Department, Perich, 53, joined the Hermantown force in 1979. He was promoted to deputy chief in 1992.
Perich has seen the Hermantown Police Department change dramatically as the city's population has mushroomed. It has gone from a force of two officers to 13. While night officers used to catch a nap on their shift, the department now responds to about 6,000 calls a year.
The severity and complexity of incidents have also increased. Some of that is due to increased drug use and trafficking in the area, Perich has said.
Even so, Hermantown Mayor Keith MacDonald said he was initially reluctant to hire two new officers last year.
"But Dan made a good case for it when we were reviewing the budget and we, as a council, voted in favor of it," MacDonald said. "I've always felt confident in the fact that he's our chief of police. I feel like he's done an excellent job."
Providing round-the-clock police services throughout Hermantown's 36 square miles with 13 officers will be a challenge for whoever steps into the top position.
"I knew the department had to grow, and the city realizes that, too, but it's a matter of finding the money to do it," Perich said. He expects the city's population to grow, as well as police calls.
The entire police force had gathered on Tuesday when Perich announced his retirement -- a rare event. While everyone was gathered, a call came in requiring multiple officers. For a moment, Perich considered taking everyone out on the call.
"It would be one time we could all go," he said.
Perich, who has taken little time off during the past three years, said he is looking forward to more hunting and hiking trips and more time with his growing family.
Even so, deciding to retire was difficult, Perich said.
"It would be very, very easy to stay," he said. "You keep setting goals and say you're going to retire when the goals are accomplished. But then you just set more goals."