APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The Appleton Police and Fire Commission (PFC) has announced that Assistant Chief of Police Polly Olson will become the next Police Chief for the City of Appleton.

She earned the position over 11 other candidates.

“We were thrilled with the high caliber of candidates that we received during our search process,” said Pamela Rae De Leest, chair of the PFC. “Ultimately, we selected Polly as our top candidate. She has a thorough understanding of Appleton’s community policing policy and will embrace the vision to continue this policy during her tenure as Chief of Police.”

Olson has served as Appleton’s Assistant Chief of Police since May 2021. She first joined the department in 2001 as a patrol officer before serving in various capacities, such as a school resource officer, a patrol captain, and a captain of investigations and support services.

She said she hopes she can inspire young women to pursue careers in law enforcement. Women only make up 3 percent of law enforcement leadership in the state of Wisconsin.

“I am honored to serve as the first female Chief of Police for the City of Appleton,” said Olson. “I am excited to continue to build on our foundation of excellence in police service and am committed to strengthening community relationships through our continued neighborhood policing efforts. Thank you to the City of Appleton for allowing me the opportunity to serve in this new capacity.”

“She was a lieutenant when I got here and I recognized her leadership potential,” said outgoing chief Todd Thomas. “I dragged her into some leadership roles, but I do believe all good leaders are reluctant leaders and do it for the right reasons.”

Olson was named the 2008 Woman Officer of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of Women Police. In 2010, she was named Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer of the Year by NAMI Fox Valley, and in 2012 Olson was Officer of the Year within the Appleton Police Department.

“Assistant Chief Olson has committed her career to the Appleton Police Department and the Appleton community, and I look forward to welcoming her to the City’s leadership team in January,” said Mayor Jake Woodford. “I am grateful to the PFC for their efforts in this process; they continue to provide excellent service to the people of Appleton.”

Olson will serve as Appleton’s first female police chief, beginning on January 4, 2023. She said she has lots of goals she wants to accomplish when she officially becomes chief.

“Continuing on with our community relationship building especially with those underserved and underrepresented populations to just build some relationships with them,” said Olson. “I think we already laid the foundation for that. Chief Thomas has done an excellent job of that and reinitiating some of our neighborhood watch initiatives is also a priority of mine starting in January.”

She also said she hopes to recruit high-quality officers at a time when law enforcement officers say recruitment efforts have been challenging.