Woodbury promotes two for top police and public safety jobs – Twin Cities

City of Woodbury officials announced Monday the promotions of two veteran police officers to the city’s top public safety positions.

Commander Jason Posel will become the city’s new director of public safety in August with the retirement of Lee Vague, who had held the position since 2007.

At the same time, Sgt. Omar Maklad will become the city’s next police chief and deputy director of public security.

Both promotions must be approved by the city council later this month.

On April 27, 2022, Woodbury City Council is expected to appoint Woodbury Police Commander Jason Posel as the town’s new Director of Public Safety. A 25-year veteran of the department, Posel is expected to assume his new role on Aug. 20, 2022, following the retirement of current Director of Public Safety Lee Vague. (Courtesy of the Town of Woodbury)

Posel, 45, said the department will continue to work to build trust and relationships in the city, which has a population of 79,000, by “focusing on every interaction we have with the community.”

“Every encounter is an opportunity to build trust,” he said. “We police alongside our community, so building relationships with youth, adults and members of the multicultural community is a top priority.”

In 2019, the department created a multicultural advisory committee of about two dozen community volunteers, he said.

It is crucial that the department reflects the community of Woodbury, he said. “From a recruiting perspective, we use a kind of short game – looking at recruiting agents from other organizations or people who have just graduated,” he said. “The Medium Game is our Pathways program – entry-level positions, community service officers, volunteer reserves and interns – people who still have a few years of education.”

The “long game is connecting with the young people in our community and building and maintaining those relationships over time,” he said.

The department has also created a community support team to address mental health issues, substance abuse issues, homelessness and other issues Woodbury faces, he said.

“It’s not just from a response perspective, but also from a follow-up perspective in terms of connecting with individuals and families to help provide them with support,” he said. “We check in with them and see what services they use and see what services we could connect them with, more importantly.”

Posel, a graduate of Tartan High School in Oakdale, has a bachelor’s degree in police leadership from Metropolitan State University and a master’s degree in criminal justice leadership from Concordia University, St. Paul.

Posel began his career with the Woodbury Police Department in 1996 as a community services officer before being promoted to police officer in 1998. He was later elevated to patrol sergeant and eventually patrol commander. He is married with one daughter, and serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf.

Woodbury Sergeant.  Omar Maklad will be the city's next police chief/deputy director of public security.  He will take up his new duties on August 20, 2002. (Courtesy of the Town of Woodbury)
Woodbury Sergeant. Omar Maklad will be the city’s next police chief/deputy director of public security. He will take up his new duties on August 20, 2002. (Courtesy of the Town of Woodbury)

NEW CHIEF OF POLICE

Maklad, 39, graduated in 2000 from Woodbury High School, where the Police Explorer program allowed him to learn about the job and participate in car rides, he said.

“After the first ride, I was so captivated by the type of work that was being done and how you could help people on a daily basis, that I’ve been passionate about it ever since,” he said. .

Maklad was shot twice in 2010 while reacting to a domestic dispute. He returned fire and killed the shooter, Timothy Scott Hanson.

“I responded to a scene to help a family, and I was ambushed and shot,” Maklad said. “I fought back to stop the threat and keep the neighborhood and family safe, as well as protect myself. It was a tragic incident, but it is one that I learned a lot from. I am grateful for the training I had and grateful for the support I received afterwards. The outpouring of community support has really opened my eyes. It really showed that yes, as a police officer, I am there for the community, but at the end of the day, the community is also there for the police officers.

Last October, Maklad was one of four officers who shot an Oakdale man, Shawn Fairley Codinack, 32, after he allegedly shot them during a clash near Tartan. No one was injured in the exchange of gunfire, parts of which were captured on video.

Maklad holds a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from the Metropolitan State. He and his wife, Sarah, have two children, Rosa and Amir.

OTHER MOVEMENTS

The city also announced Monday that Deputy Director of Public Safety Kris Mienert will retire in June.

And four other department veterans – Cmdr. John Altman, Sgt. Tom Ehrenberg, Sergeant. Garrett Kissner and Public Safety Supervisor Chris Zacharias — will be promoted, Woodbury Town Administrator Clint Gridley said.

Posel, Maklad, Altman, Ehrenberg and Kissner were selected from a pool of 11 internal candidates applying for five openings on the department’s leadership team, Gridley said, adding that city officials had prepared for the change in department leadership “through years of succession planning.”