Frey nominates O’Hara to be next Minneapolis police chief
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The city of Minneapolis is a step closer to reform and accountability with the nomination of a new police chief — but there are many more steps ahead.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey named Brian O’Hara, the deputy mayor of police services in Newark, New Jersey, as his pick to lead the city’s police department.
Before holding that post, O’Hara was the city’s public safety director and a police officer.
“There should be nobody that argues with the fact that we both need change and we need safety,” Frey said. “Those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are intrinsically linked [and] that is something that Mr. Bryan O’Hara firmly believes.”
Alongside Mayor Frey and Minneapolis Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander, O’Hara addressed the city and state for the first time.
“Together with community, our law enforcement partners, we will work together collaboratively to heal at the heart of this great city,” O’Hara said.
The possible new chief said he hopes to transform the MPD into an example for the entire world.
“The problem of serious street crime is urgent, and our communities demand and deserve good police to deal with that urgently,” O’Hara said, adding: “At the same time, I commit to hold all police officers accountable to the values of our community and I invite the community to hold us all accountable as well.”
O’Hara was one of three finalists. It was ultimately Mayor Frey’s decision to go with him, but a committee put together to help in the search played a role as well.
“I think that the wait is over. I’m delighted to know that the mayor has chosen O’Hara to be our next police chief,” said Bishop Richard Howell, member of the police chief search committee and minister with Shiloh Temple in North Minneapolis.
Through the selection process, Bishop Howell said they learned violent crime went down under O’Hara’s leadership in Newark.
“He was successful and something went right under his administration,” Bishop Howell said.
He added that the community should be patient as the impact of the next police chief’s leadership takes shape.
“We have problems, we have a police shortage in our department [and] it’s going to take some time to build,” Howell said. “But, I think that we’re on the right pathway.”
The full City Council vote is expected in October following a mandatory public hearing.
City Council members tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they have received information that they want the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to review before they decide whether to vote to confirm O’Hara for the role.
In July, O’Hara was recognized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for his work on cooperative law enforcement in the state.
“Director O’Hara’s service has been defined by his commitment to reforming policing and his fidelity to partnering with other law enforcement agencies to protect the people of Newark,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said in a statement in July. “Through his leadership, we have maintained our indispensable cooperation and proactive participation in our efforts to confront and suppress violent crime in the great city of Newark. During his career, he brought reform and transparency to police practices by leading the Newark Police Department’s implementation of the Department of Justice’s Consent Decree. Under Director O’Hara ‘s leadership, the Police Department’s crime suppression efforts improved upon the record levels of violent crime reduction that were met in 2020.”
The attorney’s office also applauded O’Hara’s work to enhance the collaborative relationships among federal, state and local law enforcement partners in the state, and his multi-agency effort to combat violent crime. At the time, the attorney’s office noted Newark had a 29% decrease in total shootings and 26% decrease in murder victims this year.
Those efforts will be critical in leading the Minneapolis Police Department, which has already been working with state and federal partners to crack down on violent crime since this spring. Additionally, Minneapolis leaders announced a new “data-driven” plan last week to reduce crime in the city.
Minneapolis has reported 67 homicides this year, almost 200 carjackings and more than 7,100 shots-fired calls, according to the city’s crime dashboard.
Additionally, the department is working with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to institute reforms after the agency found a pattern or practice of race discrimination, and the Department of Justice is still investigating the department, as well. In Newark, O’Hara led the implementation of a Department of Justice consent decree, something he may be tasked with in Minneapolis, if confirmed.