Jul 28, 2022 - News

St. Paul extends deadline for police chief search

Illustration of a "hello my name is..." sticker shaped like a police badge.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The tight labor market appears to extend to Minnesota police chiefs.

Driving the news: St. Paul is extending its application deadline for candidates to succeed retired Chief Todd Axtell by two weeks in hopes of attracting more prospects, the Pioneer Press reports.

  • That delay hamper Mayor Melvin Carter's stated goal of bringing in a new leader this summer or in early fall.

The big picture: Cities across the state and nation are competing to hire new top cops after a wave of retirements and other exits.

  • At least eight of Minnesota's most populous cities, including Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park and Duluth have either hired or are looking to hire a new police chief this year.

Between the lines: Experts say demands of the jobs, the rise in violent crime and pressure for change following the murder of George Floyd have made recruitment and retention more difficult.

State of the search: St. Paul had received 15 qualified applications as of Tuesday, per the Pioneer Press.

The intrigue: The list of candidates reportedly features six leaders from within the department, including assistant chief Stacy Murphy and commander Axel Henry, who heads the narcotics unit.

  • The last time St. Paul hired a chief from outside the department was in the 1930s, the Pioneer Press notes.

What they're saying: Kathy Lantry, co-chair of St. Paul's hiring committee, told the Pioneer Press that the decision wasn't a reflection of the quality of current applicants.

  • “Do we think the pool should be bigger? The answer to that, in my opinion, is always, ‘Yes.’ You want to have choices," she said.

What to watch: A relatively small pool of external applicants in St. Paul isn't a good sign for Minneapolis, which is looking for a police chief to lead a department under much heavier criticism and facing deeper officer shortages.

  • A city spokesperson for Minneapolis said the city's search is a "fluid process and we don’t know the number of applicants" until the Aug. 1 deadline for preferred candidates passes.

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