St. Paul’s police chief screening committee gave Senior Commander John Harrington its top ranking yesterday, prompting pressure from some minority leaders for Mayor Randy Kelly to appoint the city’s second black police chief. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that some community leaders said Kelly, who plans to name his choice today or tomorrow, would risk upsetting broad segments of the city should he choose to pass over Harrington, who is black and the only minority candidate still in the running.
Kelly could ignore the 16-member panel’s unanimous decision and nominate one of the four other finalists to replace Chief William Finney, who is retiring in July and was the city’s first black police chief.
City Council Member Kathy Lantry said the mayor would have some serious explaining to do if he didn’t choose Harrington. “He’s incredibly bright, articulate and well qualified,” she said.
Kelly may have reason to resist the pressure if he and Harrington do not see eye-to-eye, particularly on budgeting issues and other department functions. “I will take into consideration the suggestion of the selection committee,” Kelly said. “I will make the best decision for the long-term good of the city and the citizens.”
Harrington, 48, said he doesn’t think the fact he is black will play a role in the. If he becomes police chief, it will be because “I bring people together, I’m a team builder,” said Harrington, who calls himself an innovator.