Kellace McDaniel, a lieutenant with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, has been hired as police chief in Brooklyn Center, where the department has been without a leader for more than a year following fallout from the police killing of Daunte Wright.
"He has our confidence and support in this important role," City Manager Reggie Edwards said Thursday in a statement confirming that McDaniel would begin work in the north metro suburb on June 27.
Brooklyn Center has been without a chief since April 2021, when Tim Gannon resigned after Wright's killing by police sparked protests and calls for reform. Over the past year, a third of Brooklyn Center's officers resigned as the city was rocked by Wright's shooting by former officer Kimberly Potter, who was found guilty of manslaughter in December.
The city hired Twin Cities-based DRI Consulting to conduct a national search for candidates. Over the past six months, the city conducted surveys, focus groups, interview panels and a community session involving more than 200 participants who provided feedback that leaders said was taken into account.
"I want to give a heartfelt thank you to the community members, stakeholders and staff who helped us reach this important decision for our community," Edwards said.
McDaniel becomes the city's second Black police chief. Trevor Hampton held the position from 1992 to 1994, according to the city.
As a lieutenant for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, McDaniel supervised 57 deputies in the court services division. During his 13-year career there, he also worked in specialty areas including community engagement, homeland security, investigations, the jail, narcotics and the Violent Offender Task Force.
McDaniel also helped provide security for two U.S. presidential inaugurations. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice studies from St. Cloud State University with a minor in human relations.
McDaniel called himself "a great listener and good healer" when he spoke during a May 16 community meet and greet, where he was introduced as one of the finalists. Kathy Hughes, director of security for the Robbinsdale school district and a former Hennepin Sheriff's captain, was the other finalist.
"Part of coming to this community, being a community engagement team advocate, is getting community policing and the community back together," McDaniel said that night. "It has been a tough three years for everyone."
McDaniel's arrival comes as the city moves to remake its Police Department. Last year, the City Council passed a series of reforms that include using social workers and other trained professionals to respond to medical, mental health and social needs calls that don't require police.
The Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Act also prohibits police from making arrests for low-level offenses and requires the city to use unarmed civilians to handle minor traffic violations. The reforms would establish a new city department to oversee public safety.
With McDaniel's appointment, Edwards thanked Tony Gruenig, a Brooklyn Center police commander who has filled in as interim police chief and led the Police Department "through one of, if not its most challenging times."