The Metropolitan Council has named a veteran New York City police officer as chief of the Metro Transit Police Department.

Ernest Morales III was named to the post Thursday following a national search to replace Eddie Frizell, who resigned in May after being named U.S. marshal for Minnesota.

Morales has spent most of his career with the New York City Police Department, working in crisis management, investigations and administration. His most recent position was with the Mount Vernon, N.Y., police, where he was first deputy commissioner.

According to a Met Council news release Thursday, Morales is a "proven leader known for his ability to build effective relationships that collaboratively address security issues through empathy, communication, trust, and understanding."

Morales, who begins his new job on Feb. 27, joins the department at a challenging time. Crime surged by 54% in 2022 over the previous year on Metro Transit's trains and buses. While most reports involved simple assault, narcotics and weapons complaints soared by 182% and 145%, respectively, and liquor law violations rose by 92%.

Metro Transit has been implementing a 40-point plan designed to stem crime throughout the transit system, based on feedback from riders, employees and others.

Morales takes over a department of nearly 200 police officers, community service officers and support staffers, which is significantly below the authorized limit of 354 employees. There are 110 full-time officers, even though 171 positions are budgeted. The council has found it difficult to hire new officers, according to a recent presentation.

"Public safety needs trust and collaboration between all public safety agencies and the people it serves," said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in a statement. "As a respected leader, I am confident Mr. Morales will work hard not only to support existing relationships but create an environment where our officers can be successful and feel supported in their jobs."

While with the Mount Vernon Police Department, Morales helped establish department policies and procedures; coordinated several divisions including patrol services, criminal investigations and code of conduct enforcement; and supervised the department's sworn officers and civilian staff.

Morales worked his way up through the ranks of the NYPD, holding positions such as deputy inspector and commanding officer in the Transit Bureau.

Morales has a master's degree in protection management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a bachelor's degree in police administration from the State University of New York in Saratoga Springs. He retired after 22 years with the U.S. Navy Reserve.