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Minneapolis' new public safety commissioner Todd Barnette on improving partnerships, police retention

Todd Barnette ready to take on role as Minneapolis Public Safety Commissioner
Todd Barnette ready to take on role as Minneapolis Public Safety Commissioner 02:05

MINNEAPOLIS — The man nominated to be in charge of Minneapolis' public safety says recruiting and retention will be among his top priorities should he get the job.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey nominated Hennepin County Judge Todd Barnette in September, after the city's first commissioner - Dr. Cedric Alexander - announced he would retire.

Barnette has a lengthy resume dating back to his first job as a public defender in 1991. As public safety commissioner, he says he'll have a lengthy to-do list.

"I've had a view of what's going on that I think might be a little bit different," Barnette said. "We know that police, fire, and 911 have staffing issues. Recruiting and retention has to be a priority.

Barnette's other priorities include restoring and reinvigorating a police department that's subject to at least one consent decree with the state, and another pending one from the U.S. Department of Justice.

RELATED: Minneapolis Police holds "historic" first meeting on department's future following consent decree

Barnette said everything starts with dignity and respect, and making Minneapolis safer means focusing on all neighbors, not just downtown.

"You might live in a neighborhood where you're worried about encampments, or you're worried about drug dealing," he said. "We have to make some partnerships or improve partnerships and collaborations within departments, with the county and state. That's going to be important."

Barnette says he's met with Police Chief Brian O'Hara many times and they have a good working relationship. He'll appear at a public hearing on Oct. 17 and then confirmation vote can happen as early as Oct. 19.

The position of Public Safety Commissioner oversees five city departments - police, fire, 911, emergency management and neighborhood safety.

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