Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts has announced he'll retire at the end of January after 12 years as chief and 29 years with the department.

During his tenure as chief, his department handled such high-profile cases as the bombing of Bloomington's Dar Al-Farooq mosque in August 2017 and a 2019 case in which a 24-year-old man threw a 5-year-old Woodbury boy from a third-floor railing in the Mall of America.

Potts, 52, will become executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association in February.

"I've enjoyed the entire 29 years on the Bloomington Police Department," Potts said. "It's got really, really good, high-quality people, full of great high-quality professionals. ... I've had a good run."

Potts joined the department at age 23 as a patrol officer and has served as a sergeant and commander. He established the department's branch at the Mall of America and served on an undercover team tracking down stolen cars and thieves.

Potts holds a master's in police administration from the University of St. Thomas and graduated from the FBI National Academy in Virginia. He's a past president of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police.

As chief, Potts collaborated with other agencies on the Pathways to Policing Program, designed to help people interested in law-enforcement careers who can't afford to attend the standard two-years' schooling. It received an award for community diversity and inclusion from the International City/County Management Association. He also joined a Hennepin County program designed to strengthen relationships between police and immigrants, people of color, Indigenous people and religious communities.

Under Potts' leadership, the department focused on hiring and training officers to handle situations appropriately and treat people with respect and dignity. He also established a requirement that all officers get annual mental health checkups to help them deal with the emotional strain of their jobs. "They go to these horrific things," Potts said. "They're all human beings, and all of that stuff affects you."

He added a social worker to the department to assist in mental health and substance abuse crises. Potts began requiring the use of body-worn and squad car cameras, expanded the department's use of social media, launched a video series called "Q&A with BPD" and increased community outreach.

"His professionalism and his steady leadership have been a real benefit to the entire city of Bloomington," said Mayor Tim Busse. "He's an outstanding police chief, but he's also such a nice guy."

Deputy Chief Mike Hartley will be interim chief while the city looks for Potts' replacement, Busse said.

Katy Read • 612-673-4583