Public invited to attend candidate forums on October 11-12

Five finalists vying to become Saint Paul’s next police chief were chosen by a 38-member examining committee on October 3. Now it is the public’s turn to weigh in.

Two forums are planned with the finalists. One will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 11, at Washington Technology Magnet School, 1495 Rice St. The second will take place at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 12, at the Saint Paul Event Center, 400 N. Wabasha St. The events are free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Anyone with questions for the candidates may email them before the first forum begins to mayor@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

Mayor Melvin Carter and the City Council hope to appoint a new chief later this fall. Under the city charter the mayor selects a chief, but the council has to approve the appointment. The chief will serve a six-year term and can seek reappointment. The new chief’s starting salary will range from $132,000-$180,000, depending on experience and qualifications.

Todd Axtell stepped down in June, ending his six-year term as police chief and 33 years of police service. Deputy Chief Jeremy Ellison has been serving as interim chief since then, but did not seek the post on a permanent basis.

Four of the five finalists are from the city’s police ranks, and the fifth is from Philadelphia. Here are the five finalists:

• Jacqueline Bailey-Davis, a police staff inspector in the Standards and Accountability Division/Audits and Inspections Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department. Bailey-Davis became a uniformed officer in Philadelphia in 1997. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, a master’s degree in education from Lincoln University, and a doctorate in public administration from West Chester University. 

• Pamela Barragan, a unit commander for community partnerships with the Saint Paul Police Department. Barragan became a uniformed officer in Saint Paul in 1996. She holds an associate degree in law enforcement from Inver Hills Community College and a bachelor’s degree in communications from a college in Quito, Ecuador. 

 

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• Kurtis Hallstrom, senior commander of Saint Paul’s Eastern District. He became a uniformed officer for the University of Minnesota’s Police Department in 1996 and joined Saint Paul’s in 1999. Hallstrom holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from North Dakota State University, and a master’s degree in police leadership from the University of Saint Thomas. 

• Axel Henry, commander of Saint Paul’s Narcotics, Financial Intelligence and Human Trafficking Division. Henry became a uniformed officer for Roseville’s Police Department in 1995 and joined Saint Paul’s in 1998. Henry received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting, and master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from the University of Saint Thomas. 

• Stacy Murphy, assistant chief of police in Saint Paul. Murphy became a uniformed officer in the city in 2002. She holds an associate degree in law enforcement from the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She also has a certificate in leadership from Century College and a certificate in emergency management from the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program. 

“The five finalists are great candidates. I’m confident the city will be well-served by its next chief of police,” said examining committee co-chair Sasha Cotton. 

With three women as finalists, Saint Paul could wind up with its first permanent female police chief. Kathy Wuorinen was interim chief for two months in 2016 before Axtell was appointed.

According to the Saint Paul Police Historical Society, only two candidates from outside the department have been hired as the city’s police chief in the past century.

The police chief examining committee worked through the summer to review applications. Forty people applied for the job, with 18 meeting the specific qualifications. That field was then winnowed to eight. One candidate withdrew and an outside consulting firm interviewed the remaining seven, then gave the interviews to the selection committee.

“I’m grateful for this diverse committee’s diligent work in reviewing the applications and interviews of candidates,” said examining committee co-chair Sasha Cotton. “The five finalists are great candidates. I’m confident the city will be well-served by its next chief of police.”

Cotton, a lifelong Saint Paul resident, led the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention until recently. She left to become deputy director for the National Network of Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

“We engaged in a vigorous review to ensure we presented the best candidates for our community’s next chief of police,” said committee co-chair Kathy Lantry, a former City Council president and Public Works director. “As a longtime public servant in Saint Paul, I know these candidates reflect our shared community values. I look forward to the next steps in this process.”

— Jane McClure

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