City promotes longtime Willmar officer James Felt to chief of police
WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council accepted the recommendation of an interview committee and City Administrator Charlene Stevens and voted Monday night to appoint Capt. James E. Felt as police chief.
Felt fills the position vacated by the retirement last month of David Wyffels as chief.
Felt was one of two finalists interviewed last week for the position. The other candidate was David A. Kvam, commander of patrol operations with the Maplewood Police Department.
Felt thanked Mayor Frank Yanish and council members for their consideration, their kind words and placing their trust and confidence in him.
“In the past couple of weeks, I’ve received a lot of support from members of the community, members of my department, most of all my own family,’’ Felt said.
“I’ve been proud to serve the city of Willmar for the past 24 years. I’m honored to be chosen to run the department and move it forward,’’ he said. “I’ve got some big shoes to fill following Chief Wyffels, (Jim) Kulset, Chief (Dan) Strootman. But our core values are service, professionalism, integrity, respect and trust, and we’ll certainly keep moving those forward working with the talented and dedicated staff we have in the department.’’
The interview committee consisted of Stevens, Willmar Fire Chief Gary Hendrickson, Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog, City Councilman Ron Christianson, and Dennis Anfinson, chairman of the Police Commission.
Stevens said Felt will have an annual salary of $85,000. She said Wyffels was earning $91,925 when he retired.
In making her recommendation, Stevens said Felt “has spent his entire career with the Willmar Police Department and he is the best candidate to fit Willmar’s needs as a chief of police.’’
Councilman Steve Ahmann, the Labor Committee chairman, made the motion to accept the recommendation, followed by seconds from three council members.
Councilman Jim Dokken congratulated Felt and said he remembered when Felt, as a sergeant, was the officer who attended the Fourth Ward Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving meetings.
“The citizens really appreciated everything he did and said. He kept the Fourth Ward safe, and kept us informed,’’ Dokken said.
Felt has served with the Willmar Police Department since July 1990. He was investigative specialist from May 1995 to May 1996; patrol officer from July 1990 to May 1995 and May 1996 to 2000; was patrol sergeant from December 2000 to May 2011; and held the office of captain from May 2011 to the present.