Minneapolis City Council confirms Barnette as community safety commissioner
The Minneapolis City Council has approved a Hennepin County judge to be the city’s new Community Safety Commissioner.
As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Hennepin County Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette was nominated for the position by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Sept. 11 following the retirement of former Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander in July.
Frey cited Barnette’s experience in managing the state’s largest county court operations, which includes 63 judges supporting more the 550 employees, as a key factor in nominating him for the role.
Barnette’s confirmation puts him in charge of the city’s Office of Community Safety and its five public safety departments: Police, Fire, 911, Emergency Management, and Neighborhood Safety.
Mayor Frey previously shared the following statement with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, “Over the last three decades, Chief Judge Barnette has established himself as a leading voice in Minnesota’s public safety and criminal justice communities. With his broad set of lived and professional experiences, he is uniquely situated to forge the partnerships necessary to continue building out a strong, comprehensive safety system and lead a team to keep Minneapolis safe. Judge Barnette is a rare talent, one that has deep connections in Minnesota, and I’m grateful he has agreed to serve as the next member of our administration’s cabinet.”
“I think it’s good that one, they didn’t wait too long until they appointed someone else and, two, he’s certainly familiar with Minneapolis,” said Rev. Jerry McAfee, of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
He’s acutely aware of the public safety needs in Minneapolis. He organized the initiative 21 Days of Peace and his teams are out on the streets doing violence prevention work.
McAfee believes Chief Judge Barnette, who has also served as a public defender and prosecutor, will bring sensitivity to his new role as Office of Community Safety commissioner.
“Many of the kids in the court system that’ve been around that we touch, he’s aware of that and that’s a good thing, he already knows,” said McAfee. “He knows what they’re involved in, he perhaps knows the issues they have at home.”
The Chief Judge replaces Dr. Cedric Alexander, who retired in September after about a year on the job.
“He left a good model that I don’t think needs to be abandoned,” said McAfee. “Operation Endeavor worked well and to continue some of those things and expand them.”
Operation Endeavor is a coordinated effort between law enforcement and community partners to reduce violent crime, according to the city.
“I think Dr. Alexander laid a very good foundation,” said Barnette, as he accepted his new position.
He told reporters he spoke with Alexander earlier in the week.
“This work is important and it’s going to take some time and it’s going to be hard and tough,” said Barnette.
He pledged to use his experience overseeing the state’s largest county court operation to build partnerships in his new role.
“What I think I bring is this real desire to collaborate and to add partnerships,” said Barnette. “I believe part of my role is getting out in the community.”
He plans to send a letter to Governor Walz resigning from his judicial role at 5 p.m. on Friday. Barnette will start his new role on Monday morning.
According to Barnette, Assistant Chief Judge Kerry Meyer will step into his former role and preside as Chief Judge until the term expires in June 2024. An election to fill the position will follow.