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30 people apply for St. Paul police chief job, 16 are 'qualified'

The application period for the job was extended and now closes Friday, Aug. 5.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minneapolis and St. Paul Police Departments are still in the midst of nationwide searches for new police chiefs.

On Wednesday, KARE 11 learned that the mayor's office extended the application period to Friday, August 5 to encourage more candidates to apply.

The job officially opened March 2 and since then, KARE 11 found out that the city has received applications from 30 candidates - while only 16 of them "meet the qualifications".

But several law enforcement experts, including former Minneapolis Police Chief Tony Bouza, say that the number of candidates, including whether they're hired internally or externally, doesn't necessarily matter.

Now 93-years-old, Bouza served for nine years between 1980 and 1989. He's a self-professed maverick from New York whose unpopularity among the department stemmed from spurring change, both in consolidating precincts and the number of officers per squad.

When asked what makes a good police chief, Bouza said, "A desire to control police behavior through fear."

The 14 qualified candidates Bouza was up against back then is just two fewer than the St. Paul Police Department has received as of Wednesday.

The hiring process started in March when longtime Chief Todd Axtell announced his retirement. He officially left office in June. 

Bouza complimented the department's longstanding reputation.

"There's a different culture, I've never been able to understand it," said Bouza. "They seem to be more respectful, less racist and more willing to serve rather than rule."

The Pioneer Press is reporting that, of the candidates so far, six are the department's top brass. It also confirmed that it's been 38 years since someone was last named chief who didn't come internally. 

Bouza, and other experts say, no matter where they're from, being a good chief means connecting with the community, having high expectations and a willingness to tackle reform -- at a time when policing is going through major changes. 

"I want every city in America to have a successful chief; it happens that not one does," said Bouza, who's not shy about the state of leadership at the some 18,000 police departments across the country. 

As for St. Paul, only when the committee reviewing the applications narrows the search to the top five candidates will their names become public. 

RELATED: Ramsey County mourns unexpected death of sheriff's deputy

RELATED: Axtell officially off the job; St. Paul ups search for new permanent police chief

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