New St. Paul Chief Described As “Renaissance Man”

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Since St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly selected him to replace Police Chief William Finney, John Harrington, who will be sworn in today, has become something of a celebrity, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As interested in religion and philosophy as he is in criminals and arrests, Harrington said he fill his department with Renaissance cops who fight crime, speak multiple languages, and are as comfortable discussing modern art as graffiti on the city’s underpasses. Harrington, 48, talked about himself, his job and his department.

Among questions and answers from a Star Tribune interview: Q: What happened with the flap over your idea for a public safety tax? A: I really think the department needs more money to grow. If they gave us a baseball team today I don’t know that we could staff 85 games and still be responsive to downtown businesses, be responsive to the neighborhoods and do some of the long-term investigations. Q: Where do you see your department in six years? A: I see us with some of the crime problems that we have right now if not solved, much more under control. I see domestic violence as a problem that really can be solved. I still remember when I came on a woman asking me, ‘What does he have to do, kill me before you’ll do something?’ The answer in 1977 was ‘Yes.’ We almost had to wait until you got badly injured before we would do anything. Now … you don’t have to be killed, you don’t have to be beaten badly for the police to be out there on your behalf.”


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