: St. Paul Police Chief Finalists discuss the tackling of crime wave and increasing community trust
St. Officials from St. Paul announced last week that they had narrowed their search to five finalists for the position of police chief.
The Mayor Melvin Carter hosted a public forum Tuesday night where five finalists, Jacqueline Bailey Davis, Pamela Barragan and Kurtis Hallstrom, as well as Stacy Murphy, answered questions from the public. Topics ranged from how to combat violent crime to how to increase trust between police officers and community members. This forum was the first to collect public input about the candidates. The second forum was held Wednesday.
St. Paul’s top police officer job is now open. Former chief Todd Axtell, who retired earlier this year after leading the department through the coronavirus epidemic, record-high annual homicides numbers in recent years, and civil unrest in response to the murder of George Floyd across River.
Instead of Minneapolis, which chose three out-of town finalists and recently selected Brian O’Hara of Newark as the new chief of police, St. Paul has four of five candidates who are from the city’s police department. Each candidate has more than 20 years experience.
St. The five finalists for Paul are:
- Assistant Chief Stacy Murphy is a St. Paul Police Department veteran who oversees all aspects of the department’s day to day operations.
- Senior Commandant Kurtis Hallstrom , is responsible for the Eastern District.
- Commander Axel Henry is the person responsible for overseeing the human trafficking, financial intelligence, and narcotics divisions.
- Commander Pamela Barragan , who serves as the unit commander for community partnership.
- Jacqueline Bailey Davis, who joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1997 as a uniformed officer. She rose up the ranks to become a staff inspector of police, performing audits and inspections, among other tasks, of department policies.
Violent crime and reform
All candidates except one agreed that the most pressing issues facing St. Paul are gun violence and violent crime.
Both tackling crime and reforming are often seen as competing demands. But Henry of the SPPD’s financial intelligence, narcotics and human trafficking division said that both can be solved by improving relations between officers and residents. He said that letting the community know how the police operate would foster trust and authenticity.
He said that he believes the best way for our community to police their communities is to do so with them. It’s the community that is the police, and the police are their community span>
span style=”font weight: 400 The bottom line when it comes to community policing is that if it doesn’t authenticate, if not intentional, then it’s going not to work,” said Bailey-Davis of the Philadelphia Police Department.
Hallstrom of the SPPD Eastern District also stressed the importance for officers to build a relationship with the community. Hallstrom stressed that police actions should be based only on facts and fairness and that biases are not allowed.
Barragan was the SPPD’s unit commander in community partnerships. She stressed accountability and would tell the community when officers make mistakes.
She said that if we make a mistake, it will be our fault.
Chief Murphy, SPPD Assistant, said that the department’s relationships with the community have reached a “whole new level” after George Floyd’s passing in Minneapolis. She said that these partnerships are key to solving the problem of rising violent crime.
She said that law enforcement does not have all the answers, and has never had. “I believe that we have relied too heavily upon ourselves in the past to come up with these answers.”
Addressing mental healthcare needs
Murphy answered the question about how police would address mental health crisis. He said that the main role of the police was to connect people with resources.
She said that many people don’t know where to turn, particularly if they are in crisis. “Our role in helping to de-escalate situations, especially if they have mental health issues, is to find them and put them in touch with the right resources span>
Bailey-Davis was also in agreement, saying that she would make sure officers received more mental health first-aid training and expand the co-responder model. She also stated that she would place a greater emphasis on mental health for officers.
Barragan stated that training would enable officers to respond to mental health calls more confidently.
“But we are a very influential piece because when somebody is in crisis, we are the ones who respond.” We are the ones responding span to crisis situations span
Hiring new officers
In the two years since Floyd’s death, police departments across the country have had difficulty recruiting more officers as many have resigned or retired. The FBI’s most recent data on officer ranks from St. Paul shows that the problems in the capital city’s police force are less severe than those in other cities (including Minneapolis), but recruitment will be a major concern for the next chief of police.
Each candidate listed different qualities like integrity, empathy, and compassion as the characteristics they are looking for in new recruits.
However, all candidates stressed a willingness and ability to serve the community in which they are policing.
span style=”font weight: 400 No one will ever remember how many people you sent to jail. Hallstrom stated that nobody will be able to recall all the traffic accidents you were involved in. “They will remember the way you treated people while they were at work .”