A group of 32 St. Paul law enforcement officials and community members — including youths, a mental health advocate, a pastor with the Black Ministerial Alliance and a Lowertown business owner — will help select the city’s next police chief.
The City Council signed off Wednesday on the committee and process to choose the successor to Chief Tom Smith, who is stepping down this spring.
“We wanted it to be really racially diverse and culturally diverse,” Council President Russ Stark said of the group.
The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time Thursday, with the goal of having the city’s 41st chief start work in June.
Shelley Johnson Cline, of the St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, said her organization has been part of the past two selection committees. The group includes union representatives, immigrant community leaders, school officials and a judge.
“I do think that the City Council and the mayor’s office is deliberate in having a good representation of the community that the police chief serves,” she said.
The committee will pick five finalists, and Mayor Chris Coleman will select the chief from that group. The City Council must sign off on his choice. There will be opportunities for public input before then, including two candidate forums in March.
The council also approved a change Wednesday to the qualifications for chief. Applicants must have held a position equivalent to or higher than the St. Paul department’s rank of commander in an organization with 500 or more sworn officers. Previously, applicants needed to hold such a position in a department with at least 100 sworn officers.
The St. Paul Police Department has more than 600 sworn officers. Several internal candidates have said they may apply for the job.