ST PAUL, Minn. — A career officer will bridge the gap between outgoing Police Chief Todd Axtell and a new hire that will eventually lead the effort to make St. Paul a safer city.
Mayor Melvin Carter announced Wednesday that current Deputy Chief Jeremy Ellison will be St. Paul's new interim police chief, leading the department until a permanent chief is hired. Ellison is clear that he is not seeking the permanent job, but will "work with the men and women of our department to support the vital work we do in service to our city."
Axtell, who is stepping away from the chief's job in June, describes Ellison as the embodiment of all the attributes St. Paul PD needs. "He values community engagement, diversity, transparency, accountability and innovation," Axtell said in a released statment. "Throughout his career he has serviced with the utmost integrity, compassion and humility. He is a natural leader."
Ellison's resume reflects a home-grown cop: He started as a park ranger in 1999, then was hired as a police officer in 2000. In the years since he has served as a patrolman, investigator, and as a member of several federal task forces before joining Axtell's administration. He is said to have a passion for traffic safety, and has been very involved in the effort toward zero traffic deaths.
The announcement of Ellison's appointment as interim chief came just minutes after word of St. Paul's latest homicide, a shooting on the 700 block of Edmunds Avenue. Axtell cited frustration with the city's uptick in violent crime as one of the reasons he chose not to seek reappointment as police chief.
Ellison told reporters he will bring stability to the department and the city while the search for a permanent chief unfolds in the coming months. "I'm honored and humbled to have this opportunity," he told reporters. Ellison said he will work hard to make sure St. Paul PD has the right resources in the right places, but will need community support and cooperation to make the city a safer place.
Mayor Carter says St. Paul will contract with a search firm and expects that a hire will be made by late summer or fall.
The city of Minneapolis is also going through a transition and currently operating with an interim police chief. Amelia Huffman took over after then-chief Medaria Arradondo retired, declining to accept another appointment to lead the city's troubled department.
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