Residents urged to take part in hunt for new police chief

Community meetings will allow St. Paul residents to discuss what qualities they would like to see in the city’s new police chief.

by Koran Addo

In a school year that included an abduction, a robbery at gunpoint and at least one reported sexual assault, it is unclear how involved the University community has been in the search for Minneapolis and St. Paul police chiefs.

As Minneapolis concluded its search last month, University

officials said finding a chief willing to work closely with the University and its unique law enforcement needs is important.

However, the University put forth no organized effort to attend the public community input meetings, including the public safety department, Student Legal Service and University Relations, University officials said.

St. Paul began the process to fill Chief William Finney’s position after he announced his retirement last November.

The selection process allows the public to have the most input early through a series of community meetings.

At these meetings, citizens are invited to discuss the qualities they look for in a police chief.

St. Paul City Council member Jay Benanav, whose Ward 4 includes several universities, said it is important for the University to send representatives to these meetings and have their voices heard in the selection process for what he calls the city’s toughest job.

“We have to build bridges,” Benanav said. “We need someone who can work with and understands all of the diversity in the community, including the University.”

University police Chief George Aylward said while the department is interested in the selection process, they have no plans to attend any of the meetings.

“It’s the communities’ call,” he said. “We’ll be fine with whoever they pick.”

Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer said while he does not know of anything specific, he is sure University students will be involved in the process in one way or another.

The selection process will be run by a 15-member selection committee that will narrow the field of more than 80 applicants to five finalists, one of whom will be chosen to be the next chief by the mayor, pending St. Paul City Council approval.