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Metro Transit Police Department announces new police chief

Ernest Morales III joins the Metro Transit Police Department after spending most of his career with the New York City Police Department.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Editor's note: The above video about Metro Transit crime statistics first aired on Jan. 19, 2023.

Ernest Morales III, a former officer from New York, will be the next Metro Transit Police Chief, the department announced Thursday in a press release.

Morales III will officially begin Feb. 27.

He spent most of his career in the New York City Police Department, where he worked in several roles, including crisis management, investigations and administration, according to the release.

“Providing a safe, welcoming transit experience for our transit customers and employees is always a top priority for the Met Council and Metro Transit,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in a press release. “Public safety needs trust and collaboration between all public safety agencies and the people it serves. As a respected leader, I am confident Mr. Morales will work hard not only to support existing relationships but create an environment where our officers can be successful and feel supported in their jobs."

Morales III takes over after Richard Grates was appointed as the department's interim chief following departure of Eddie Frizell, who stepped down as the Metro Transit Police Chief last April to become a U.S. Marshal.

“As one of one of the most important leadership positions for the Met Council, the Chief of the Metro Transit Police Department needs to be a change agent that understands not only law enforcement, but the communities we serve,” said Metro Transit general manager Wes Kooistra in a release. “Mr. Morales is a proven leader in this area, assembling high-functioning teams that create and implement strategies that foster innovation and change in the policing environment.”

Morales III is joining the department after a recent report showed a significant increase in crime on buses and trains. According to the report, there were increases in narcotics (up 182%), weapons (up 145%), liquor law violations (up 92%) and assault (up 28%). Metro Transit is currently implementing its Safety and Security Action Plan, which includes having more transit representatives.

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