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Mayor Frey names Brian O'Hara as nominee for Minneapolis police chief

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Mayor Frey names Brian O'Hara as nominee for Minneapolis police chief
Mayor Frey names Brian O'Hara as nominee for Minneapolis police chief 00:51

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced Brian O'Hara, the deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey, as his nomination for the next chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.

O'Hara said he was "grateful and honored" at the prospect of serving the people of Minneapolis.

He said that tackling gun violence is his main priority, along with rebuilding the ranks of the police department, which has been understaffed for the last two years. 

"Together with community our law enforcement partners, we will work together collaboratively, to heal the heart of this great city," he said.

O'Hara will take over the position after Medaria Arradondo retired in January after two terms as chief and 32 years with the department. Arradondo managed the department during the murder of George Floyd and subsequent unrest. He retired shortly after a controversial referendum that failed to replace the MPD with a department of public safety.

After Arradondo's retirement, Amelia Huffman was named interim chief. Though she expressed interest in the position of chief, the three finalists that Frey named earlier in September all came from outside of Minneapolis.

Sources within the MPD said at the time that some officers wanted to see an internal candidate move up to chief. But others outside of the department felt fresh blood was needed.

Mayor Frey said he was unsure of the timeline for O'Hara's potential confirmation, but said he was confident that the Minneapolis City Council would approve of the nomination. 


O'Hara: To people who oppose police, "I ask that you give us a chance"

At the press conference announcing his nomination as Minneapolis police chief, Brian O'Hara spoke directly to those who have called for the abolition of police.

"It should be clear by now to all that the idea that policing can simply go away or be abolished is just unrealistic. The problem of serious street crime is urgent, and our communities demand and deserve good police to deal with that urgently," he said.

At the same time, he committed to holding police accountable to the values of the community. 

"Minneapolis PD will be an example for the world, that there is no dichotomy between protecting human rights and having effective strong law enforcement," he said.

O'Hara's comments echoed what Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has previously called a "both-and" approach to public safety; that it is possible to sustain drops in street crime and build trust with the community, and the only way to accomplish those goals is to do so in tandem.

"I ask that you give us a chance," O'Hara said. "I want your voice to be heard."

By WCCO Staff

Who were the three finalists for MPD chief?


Mayor Jacob Frey named Elvin Barren, Dr. RaShall Brackney, and Brian O'Hara as the three finalists for Minneapolis Police Chief earlier in September. 

Barren is chief of police in Southfield, Michigan. He previously served in the Detroit Police Department for 21 years. As chief of police in Southfield, he has instituted a variety of new initiatives and policy revisions. Barren is also a veteran of the United States Navy.

Brackney is a distinguished visiting professor of practice at George Mason University. She served as chief of police for Charlottesville, Virginia and George Washington University. Brackney retired as commander from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police after serving more than 30 years.

O'Hara serves as deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey. In 2001, O'Hara joined the Newark Police Department as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become a captain in 2016. In 2021, he was appointed as the public safety director for Newark, overseeing sworn police officers, firefighters and civilian employees.

By WCCO Staff

MPD chief will report to Cedric Alexander, new commissioner of community safety

The new Minneapolis police chief will report to Dr. Cedric Alexander, who is tasked - in a newly-created position - with overseeing public safety in the city.

Alexander was sworn in as the new commissioner of community safety last month, and is in charge of overseeing five departments of public safety: 911, the city fire department, emergency management office, police department, and neighborhood safety.

"There is going to be some new initiatives, some new thinking, and some new ways of doing business," Alexander said shortly after he was tapped for the role.

Last week, Alexander and Mayor Jacob Frey announced "Operation Endeavor," a comprehensive approach to public safety that will coordinate city services - from police to prosecutors to violence prevention groups - and crack down on crime. The initiative will use data to strategically deploy services throughout the city.

RELATED: WCCO-TV goes 1-on-1 with Frey's public safety pick

Beginning with downtown, "the ripple effects will be felt city-wide," Alexander said. There will be more foot beats and bike patrols in downtown Minneapolis. The program also embeds a prosecutor from Hennepin County to work directly with the MPD.

Alexander said he "welcomed" and supported Brian O'Hara's nomination.

By WCCO Staff
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