St. Paul wants to lower requirements for the city's next police chief in hopes of attracting more applicants after one was disqualified and another withdrew from the race.

The move, proposed Monday by the city's human resources director, would push back the hiring process by two to three months.

There are currently four viable applicants to replace Chief Thomas Smith when he retires this summer. The city charter requires that a selection committee forward five finalists to the mayor for consideration.

"I … want to make clear that this decision is not about the caliber of the current candidates," Mayor Chris Coleman said in a written statement.

Two internal candidates, Assistant Chief Todd Axtell and Senior Commander Tina McNamara, and four external candidates applied by the February deadline. One external candidate was disqualified; a second withdrew on March 5.

The other remaining candidates are Minneapolis police Lt. Eddie Frizell and an unknown police chief with 37 years of experience. (Applicants' identities are protected until they become finalists.)

The human resources director, Angela Nalezny, asked the City Council to vote to lower the minimum administrative experience of applicants from six to four years, and to lower the sworn staff of their organization from 500 to 100 officers.

The current sworn-staff size criterion limited the pool to St. Paul and Minneapolis police, and the State Patrol.

Chao Xiong