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Brian O'Hara approved as new Minneapolis police chief

O'Hara previously served as deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey and has worked in law enforcement and public safety for 20 years.

MINNEAPOLIS — Thursday morning the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved Mayor Jacob Frey's nomination to have Brian O'Hara lead the city's police department.

Frey nominated O'Hara for the police chief position back in September after a nationwide search began earlier this year. In January, Medaria Arradondo retired from the Minneapolis police chief position and Interim Chief Amela Huffman has been in the role since.

O'Hara will officially begin his role as chief on Monday, Nov. 7.

“I believe that things happen for a reason,” O’Hara said following the city council vote. “I believe very deeply that the experiences that I have had in the city of Newark, working with community and working with police officers to bring about some meaningful changes, are experiences that are directly applicable to the current challenges that are facing the residents of this community. I’m incredibly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to be part of the change here in Minneapolis.”

RELATED: 'I believe I am here on purpose' | MPD Chief nominee Brian O'Hara pledges change

O'Hara, who previously served as deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey has worked in law enforcement and public safety for 20 years. He joined Newark's police department in 2001, and rise through the ranks before becoming captain in 2006.

With city council approval, O'Hara becomes the police chief hired from outside the Minneapolis police department in almost two decades.

“This moment matters,” said Mayor Frey said in a statement. “The act of stepping up for this job – at this time – is an act of courage, and Brian O’Hara is exactly the type of person our city, our community, and our police department needs right now. He is an inclusive leader, a forward thinker, and a person of the highest moral integrity. His unrelenting willingness to show up and be present will allow him to succeed in driving police reform, reducing violent crime, and strengthening police-community relations."

The new Minneapolis police chief will have plenty of work ahead of them: MPD is still under federal investigation following the murder of George Floyd, the department is grossly understaffed and violent crime is an ongoing issue. 

"I really hope that you carry that scrutiny forward for the department," said councilmember Elliott Payne. "To bring that heightened legitimacy to the department.

At O'Hara's nomination hearing on Oct. 26, he was asked about his vision for MPD department transparency and transformation, how he would handle officer misconduct, his approach to recruitment and retention, and what should be done with the MPD third precinct building, views on off-duty police work, and much more.

"The Minneapolis police department will be an example for the world that there is no dichotomy between protecting human rights and having effective, strong law enforcement," O'Hara told KARE 11. 

"I have been skeptical of outsiders coming into the department," said councilmember Lisa Goodman. "However, the moment is different now. And everyone can feel it."

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