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Woodbury High School grad becomes police chief in St. Paul Park

Woodbury High School graduate Jessica Billmeyer wasn’t actively looking for a new job, but when she found out St. Paul Park needed a new police chief she thought it would be a good fit.

The Newport native, formerly a sergeant with the Inver Grove Heights Police Department, took over as police chief.

“We’re very excited to have Jessica Billmeyer coming on board,” St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke said.

Police Chief Mike Monahan announced last November he would retire effective Jan. 31. He stepped down after 33 years with the department, including 16 as chief.

Billmeyer, who grew up in Newport and graduated from WHS in 1993, worked her way through the ranks in Inver Grove Heights, where she was hired in 1998 shortly after finishing school at Metropolitan State University.

She was the first in her family to work in law enforcement, Billmeyer said, but her father was a Newport fire chief. He was killed in an explosion at the Ashland refinery in 1978.

Billmeyer originally set out to study law, but a few years into college she decided to switch her focus to law enforcement, in part after a suggestion from a friend.

She said looking back, one of the experiences that might have made that suggestion appealing was how supportive the Newport police officers were when her father died.

“They were there to support my family and my mom,” she said.

Even with her more than 17 years of experience, Billmeyer said she wasn’t expecting the opportunity to be a chief so soon. But the chance to work in St. Paul Park was something she couldn’t pass up.

“That thought of it being a good fit is what made me want to try for that position a little earlier than I maybe would have,” Billmeyer said.

Billmeyer said she is excited to lead in a smaller city because it offers a chance to develop strong relationships.

“I’m striving definitely for that open communication, two-way lines to establish a good rapport with everyone that works there,” she said.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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