St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly has named Senior Commander John Harrington to serve as the city’s 50th police chief, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “The police department and the city will be in very strong and capable hands,” Kelly said of the 27-year St. Paul Police veteran.
Harrington is expected to win council confirmation easily. Council members who indicated they were open to considering another candidate have praised Harrington’s credentials and said he would make a fine chief. Harrington will become the second black to head the city’s police department, replacing William Finney, who became the first in 1992.
The chief will lead a department that includes more than 560 officers and has an annual budget of more than $57 million. Harrington, 48, has earned a reputation as an intelligent, well-spoken, and energetic officer. He has expressed a strong commitment to community policing, which aims to have officers work specific beats and tackle the root causes of crime.
Kelly’s decision came after he and Harrington aired their policy disagreements during an unannounced hour-long meeting in the mayor’s office. They apparently patched up differences on budgeting and organizational issues. In an interview with the Pioneer Press, Harrington softened positions that clashed with the mayor’s.
During a public forum last week, Harrington came out in favor of a referendum that would enable the city to levy a separate property tax to fund public safety operations. Such a move would remove the police and fire departments from the city’s general fund.