St. Paul Deputy Police Chief Jeremy Ellison will temporarily take over the department when the current chief steps down June 1, Mayor Melvin Carter said Wednesday.

Ellison, who joined the department as a ranger in 1999 and became an officer in 2000, said he is not applying for the permanent position left open with the departure of Chief Todd Axtell.

"My main goal is stability," Ellison said at a news conference. "The department needs strong leadership during times of change."

Carter said the city would have a new police chief by late summer or early fall. He said he encouraged Ellison to apply. Ellison is the current deputy chief overseeing support services and administration, and he has not faced any disciplinary action within the department, according to his personnel file.

Ellison's assignments have included stints with the patrol, narcotics, special investigations and traffic safety units. In his current role, he worked as part of a coalition that addressed a surge in homelessness downtown St. Paul experienced during the pandemic.

"In every single position that I have observed him in within our department, he's not only survived but he's thrived," Axtell said of his interim successor. "He's built the connections, built the relationships. He really exemplified trusted service with respect each and every day."

In late October, Axtell announced he would not seek reappointment after his six-year term expires in June. City officials did not say how much Ellison would be paid while serving as interim chief.

Ellison will take the helm at a time when the Police Department is facing demands to combat violent crime and take a more creative approach to public safety. St. Paul saw a record 38 homicides last year and on Wednesday morning reported its 15th homicide of 2022.

"We have the support and trust of the city and the people that we serve — people who do not want to see sweeping changes in the programs that we're delivering, the services that we are out there delivering or the culture that they are appreciating so much every day," Ellison said.

He will also inherit ongoing debates about the department's funding and staffing levels. Axtell, who was appointed by former Mayor Chris Coleman, has publicly sparred with Carter over issues such as the agency's budget and officer pay.

At Wednesday's news conference, however, the mayor offered nothing but praise for the outgoing chief.

"You fostered a culture of trusted service with respect that our residents have come to expect from our police department — a distinction I'm confident we will continue to fulfill as we transition to interim leadership during our search for the next chief of police," Carter told Axtell.

The City Council recently convened a group of 39 community members — including representatives from nonprofits, businesses, the NAACP and the police union — to vet candidates. That committee will pick five finalists to present to Carter.

The mayor will then appoint a chief from the list, and the council must approve the choice. Traditionally, the department has promoted from within.

"We deserve a chief who understands deeply the things that make St. Paul such a special and unique place," Carter said.

The mayor said that although the city will conduct "a global search," he expects "some very, very strong candidates" will come from within the department.

The City Council previously expressed frustrations about the pace of the process, which began in February. Some council members said if Carter and his administration had started the search for Axtell's replacement shortly after the chief announced his plans to step down, the city would not require interim leadership.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appointed an interim police chief — Deputy Chief Amelia Huffman — after Medaria Arradondo retired in January. In March, the city hired a California-based search firm to help find a "reform-minded" leader.