Deputy Chief Jeremy Ellison was named the city of Saint Paul’s interim police chief on May 4 as efforts to find a permanent replacement for outgoing Chief Todd Axtell continue.

Later that day the Saint Paul City Council held a public hearing to establish a qualifications and examining committee for the permanent chief position. The committee will hear from applicants and the public in the weeks ahead.

Axtell’s last day as chief is June 1, and Ellison will assume his new job at 5 p.m. that day. Ellison has indicated he will not seek the permanent post.

Ellison brings 23 years of service to the interim position. He joined the department in 1999 as a park ranger and became a police officer in 2000. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Metro State and a master’s degree in leadership, administration and education from the University of Saint Thomas. He also completed the School of Police Staff and Command at Northwestern University.

Ellison, who has had several assignments over the years, is currently deputy chief of the support services division. He has been heavily involved in traffic safety throughout his career, serving as the Toward Zero Deaths enforcement grant coordinator. Part of that work involved the Stop for Me pedestrian safety campaign.

He has received numerous letters of recognition, two medals of commendation and a medal of merit.

“I’m honored for the opportunity to serve our community as interim chief of the Saint Paul Police Department,” Ellison said. “Under Chief Axtell’s leadership, our officers have continued to rise to meet the needs of our community every day.” 

“I’m honored for the opportunity to serve our community as interim chief of the Saint Paul Police Department,” Ellison said. “Under Chief Axtell’s leadership, our officers have continued to rise to meet the needs of our community every day.” 

Mayor Melvin Carter said he was grateful for Axtell’s three decades of service to the city and his leadership in the Police Department over the past six years. “As we work to select our next permanent leader, I’m confident that Deputy Chief Ellison will serve our department and city with distinction,” Carter added.

“Jeremy embodies all of the attributes our department needs,” Axtell said. “He values community engagement, diversity, transparency, accountability and innovation. Throughout his career, he has served with the utmost integrity, compassion and humility. He’s a natural leader. Our department is in good hands.”

A firm will be hired to conduct a national search for the next chief. The council’s Police Chief Examining Committee, co-chaired by Kathy Lantry and Sasha Cotton, will begin meeting soon. It will present five finalists to Carter, who is expected to make the permanent police chief selection later this summer or early fall.

Lantry is a lifelong East Sider who served on the City Council for almost 18 years, including 11 as president, and as the city’s Public Works Department director from 2015 until her retirement in 2020. Cotton is a lifelong Saint Paul resident with deep ties to the Summit-University neighborhood and is the director of the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention.

Other committee members represent the public, businesses, youths, schools, public housing, police, courts and minority populations, among others. For more information on the committee’s work and its makeup, visit tinyurl.com/y5ak2nsn.

— Jane McClure

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