The search committee tasked with finding the next Minneapolis police chief has winnowed the applicant pool down to three, and none is from within the department.

The finalists are: Elvin Barren, a former deputy police chief in Detroit and the current chief of Southfield, Mich.; RaShall Brackney, the former chief in Charlottesville, Va.; and Brian O'Hara, a deputy mayor of Newark, N.J., who previously served as the city's director of public safety.

"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," Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"This is among the most consequential hires I will make as mayor. Our residents deserve a candidate who will both lead [the Minneapolis Police Department] with the courage of their convictions and build trust in our city."

Interim Chief Amelia Huffman did not reach the final round of interviews, meaning that the department will be led by an outsider for the first time in nearly two decades. In announcing the finalists, Frey thanked Huffman for her leadership, crediting her with accelerating "the pace of change" in the past 10 months by enacting meaningful policy reforms, including the updated discipline matrix and an overhaul of the department's field training officer program.

Huffman, a 28-year veteran of the force, became the second woman to take the helm last December after Chief Medaria Arradondo retired. She inherited an embattled department still trying to reform after the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a killing that set off worldwide protests and reignited debate about what policing should be in the United States.

At the time, Frey lauded Huffman's "encyclopedic knowledge" of how public safety should function and of the Police Department's internal policies, calling her the "right leader to move towards rebuilding our department."

But two weeks into her tenure, a Minneapolis SWAT team executing a no-knock warrant in downtown apartment shot and killed Amir Locke, who lay under a blanket on the couch gripping a handgun. The 22-year-old Black man was not the subject of the search warrant nor a suspect in the associated murder investigation.

That police killing renewed public outrage and forced the city to, once again, re-examine the tactic of no-knock warrants. Huffman's handling of the case played a significant role in the search committee's decision to exclude her as a finalist, said a source familiar with the discussions.

On Wednesday morning, Huffman alerted her senior leadership team that she would not get the nod for the permanent role. She could not be reached for comment.

Barren, Brackney and O'Hara are expected to visit Minneapolis this week for in-person interviews. The committee sent all three names to the mayor for consideration. Frey will then nominate the final candidate, who must be approved by the City Council after a public hearing.

O'Hara told the Star Tribune on Wednesday that he applied for the job because Minneapolis has become the "center of the planet in terms of police reform, and it's a transformative moment [for the city]."

Since 2017, O'Hara has navigated a federally mandated consent decree in Newark, after a yearslong probe by the U.S. Department of Justice found widespread constitutional violations and lax oversight.

"It's been challenging and difficult at first but increasingly rewarding," said O'Hara, noting that the city has managed to enact reforms and achieve marked reductions in crime during that time.

As the lone white candidate, O'Hara said he understands why Minneapolis residents would want a person of color to lead the department. At the same time, he said, "I'm from one of the most diverse places on Earth."

Barren's assistant, Shandera Dawson, said he is declining media interviews because "the chief wants to respect the process."

A message left for Brackney was not immediately returned.

Last spring, Frey chose a California-based search firm to help find a "reform-minded" leader to fill the post vacated by Arradondo, the city's first Black chief who oversaw the agency during the worst crisis in its 154-year history. The council also raised the chief's salary cap to $300,000 — a move meant to incentivize a higher-quality applicant pool.

A local search committee, made up of nine community leaders and two council members, held a series of public meetings to gather input from Minneapolis residents about what they wanted in their next police chief. Hundreds of people submitted feedback demanding someone with a proven record of integrity, honesty and accountability.

Many stood up to say that only a leader from outside the department could achieve structural change — and a long-sought internal culture shift.

Over the summer, the national search firm ranked all 18 candidates who applied for the job based on their experience and education levels. It shared that analysis with the local committee, which extended interviews to just six. The group weeded that pool down to three finalists last week.

"We're looking for a change agent, and I think those were some of the qualities that we were trying to suss out," said City Council President Andrea Jenkins, who sits on the search committee. "The three candidates that we selected really outshined the whole group of them."

Whoever is ultimately chosen for the job is certain to face enormous challenges. From day one, they will be tasked with bolstering the department's depleted ranks to ease continued staff shortages, mending frayed community relations with marginalized communities, addressing the worst violent crime in a generation and championing police accountability amid simultaneous state and federal investigations into its practices that could bring sweeping reforms.

Barren, 50, has been police chief in Southfield, a majority Black suburb of Detroit, since July 2019. Previously, he rose to deputy chief in the Detroit Police Department, where he served for 21 years. Barren also served eight years in the Navy as an operations specialist.

Brackney, 60, served as chief of police in Charlottesville from June 2018 until she was fired by the city manager in September 2021 after surveys revealed major concerns among the rank and file. She later filed a $10 million racial and gender discrimination lawsuit alleging that her termination was retaliation for disbanding the city's SWAT team amid efforts to root out police misconduct. That case remains pending.

Brackney has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement with the police department in Pittsburgh and served as the police chief at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In December 2020, she was named as a finalist to head the Dallas Police Department.

O'Hara, 43, is the deputy mayor of strategic initiatives for police services and public safety in Newark. He moved into that position in July after serving as the city's public safety director since February 2021. O'Hara joined the force as a police officer in 2001.

Star Tribune staff writer Liz Navratil contributed to this report.