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3 finalists selected for Minneapolis police chief

The search committee picked three candidates from outside the department.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced Wednesday the final candidates for the city's Chief of Police. 

The search committee picked three candidates from outside the department. Interim MPD Chief Amelia Huffman was not recommended.

The candidates are Elvin Barren, Dr. RaShall Brackney and Brian O'Hara.

"We are thrilled to have recruited three national caliber candidates, and I look forward to meeting with each one to ultimately choose our next Police Chief," said Mayor Frey in a news release. "This is among the most consequential hires I will make as mayor. Our residents deserve a candidate who will both lead MPD with the courage of their convictions and build trust in our city. I'm grateful to the search committee for their time and dedication in reviewing and recommending these finalists and to Interim Chief Huffman for her excellent leadership over the past 10 months. She has enacted impactful policy reforms, collaborated effectively with department heads across City Hall, and accelerated the pace of change during this critical time."

In March, Mayor Frey launched a national search for a new chief. Later that spring, five listening sessions were held across all five Minneapolis Police precincts following the retirement of former Chief Medaria Arradondo. 

The City of Minneapolis provided the candidate's background in their Wednesday news release:

Elvin Barren is currently the Chief of Police for the City of Southfield (MI). Prior to that, Chief Barren served 21 years with the Detroit Police Department and retired from the Detroit Police Department as a Deputy Chief. His responsibilities included five precincts, the Downtown Services Division, and eight specialized units (SWAT, Bomb Squad, K-9, Air Support, Harbor Master, Traffic Enforcement, Tactical Response Unit, and City-Wide Parks Detail). As the Chief of Police for the City of Southfield, Chief Barren has instituted a variety of new initiatives and policy revisions. The current Use of Force policy is now in compliance with National Best Practices in Policing. Chief Barren is also a veteran of the United States Navy, serving eight years as an Operations Specialist.

Dr. RaShall Brackney currently serves as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Practice at George Mason University. Previously, Dr. Brackney served as the Chief of Police for Charlottesville (VA) and George Washington University. Dr. Brackney retired as a Commander from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police after serving for more than 30 years. During her tenure as a law enforcement professional in Pittsburgh, she was responsible for overseeing critical operations such as Special Operations, SWAT, Mounted Patrol, Hostage Negotiations, Crime Analysis, the Training Academy, Patrol Operations and Major Crimes. Dr. Brackney is a recognized expert in restorative and procedural justice practices in policing, community violence exposure, and reducing community trauma through relational policing.

Brian O’Hara currently serves as the Deputy Mayor of the City of Newark (NJ). In 2001, Deputy Mayor O’Hara joined the Newark Police Department as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become a captain in 2016. In 2021, he was appointed as the Public Safety Director for Newark overseeing more than 1,960 employees, comprising 996 sworn police officers, 611 firefighters, and 346 civilian employees, and a budget that exceeded $200 million. In that role, Deputy Mayor O’Hara enhanced the collaborative working relationships among federal, state, and local partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Newark Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, and numerous other state and local agencies and police departments.

Mayor Frey and Minneapolis' first Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander will interview the candidates before the mayor's final decision, "which will occur in the coming weeks."

The mayor's nomination will then go to the Minneapolis City Council for approval.

Council President Andrea Jenkins told KARE 11 that the process is likely to take several weeks, but should certainly conclude by the end of the year. Jenkins also sat on a 12-member police chief search committee. 

Jenkins said that an outside recruiting firm advanced 16 applicants to her search committee. Then, she said the committee chose to interview about eight or nine of those candidates, before recommending the list of finalists to Mayor Frey.

"These three really outshined the rest of the field," Jenkins said. "We need a change agent in Minneapolis."

All three candidates have worked in departments that have experienced consent decrees, basically court-enforced mandates to guide policing practices. These are likely to come to Minneapolis soon, as a result of either a state investigation, federal Department of Justice investigation, or both.

"I personally think that's an important attribute to bring to this new role," Jenkins said. "We need a nimble chief that understands that process, that work, and to be engaged in that." 

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