Public safety is center stage in the Twin Cities as deadly gun violence is on the rise. Both major police departments in the Twin Cities have announced their selections for Police Chiefs.
The Minneapolis City Council approved the appointment of Newark Deputy Mayor Brian O’Hara as the next chief of police on Nov. 3. O’Hara is taking over for interim chief Amelia Huffman who has led the department since Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis' first Black police chief, retired at the beginning of the year. Huffman was criticized for her mishandling of the fatal shooting of Amir Locke last February.
Last week, the council’s Public Health & Safety Committee unanimously voted to advance O’Hara’s nomination during a public hearing where community members offered support and skepticism for the incoming chief. Here are 5 highlights from the 2 hour meeting:
After community input, committee members took their turn asking pointed questions of O'Hara.
On transforming MPD culture
On police accountability
On the future of the third precinct
On changes to new police contract
You can read Mayor Jacob Frey's nomination letter for O'Hara and public comments here.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stayed within the city to find his pick for police chief. On Tuesday, he nominated Commander Axel Henry who has been with St. Paul Police Department for 24 years. Other candidates included Dr. Jacqueline Bailey-Davis who would have been the city's first Black female chief.
“Commander Henry’s rich patrol and command experience, his lifetime of service to Saint Paul, and his forward-thinking approach to safety have earned him broad support from our officers and residents alike. He is the perfect candidate to lead our nationally renowned police department," says Mayor Carter.
Currently, Henry is a commander of narcotics, financial intelligence and human trafficking. He is expected to succeed former chief Todd Axtell, who retired this summer after more than 30 years with the department.
“As a person who was born, raised, and lives in St. Paul, this city means far more to me than simply a place where I work. I don’t want to be a chief, I want to be the St. Paul Police Chief,” says Henry.
Watch the Nov. 1 press conference below.
According to the city of Saint Paul website Commander Henry will be sworn in as Saint Paul Police Chief on November 16 at City Hall and will begin his six-year term as designated by City Charter on November 19.