ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - On Monday, Mayor Chris Coleman announced he selected Assistant Chief Todd Axtell to serve as the new Saint Paul police chief.
Axtell is a 27-year veteran of the Saint Paul Police Department. He has served as a patrol officer, sergeant, commander, senior commander and assistant chief. He has also been involved with community outreach programs such as the Junior Police Academy and Safe Summer Nights.
"It's an incredible honor. Its surreal in many ways. When you start as a police chief, the last thing you think you are going to be doing is be chief," Axtell said at a press conference Monday.
When reflecting on the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Axtell said St. Paul is prepared for a mass shooting.
Some 300 patrol officers went through training on how to respond to mass casualty situations like Orlando over the last couple of months.
While he doesn't know the specifics of why officers had to wait three hours before storming the Pulse nightclub, killing gunman Omar Mateen, Axtell said in St Paul, taking out the shooter is the first priority.
"Its important because what we are finding nationally and around the world is active shooters continue to shoot until they are stopped. So law enforcement has to be prepared to go in and stop the threat immediately," said Axtell.
Axtell says his first priority is reducing the gun violence that has plagued his city while continuing to connect with the community through programs like the Junior Police Academy, which he started 10 years ago, and believes will eventually help the department look more like the people it serves.
"Anytime we can connect officers with our youth to build relationships, they become friends with officers and eventually they will get excited to become a St. Paul police officer," Axtell said.
Axtell says de-escalation and crisis intervention training are top priorities as well, along with working with his officers on proper use of force, particularly with communities of color.
Coleman will ask City Council to confirm the Axtell's appointment on June 22. If approved, assistant police chief Axtell will assume his new role on June 23.
The selection process involved an online public survey, community outreach, two candidate forums, and input from the Police Chief Selection Committee.
Chief Todd Axtell on accepting his new position "It is a profound honor to be the next chief of SPPD" pic.twitter.com/X9FQNNvXK0— St. Paul Police PIO (@sppdPIO) June 13, 2016
Mayor Coleman announces SPPD Asst. Chief Todd Axtell is his selection as the next chief of SPPD. pic.twitter.com/upkKf0xyvB— St. Paul Police PIO (@sppdPIO) June 13, 2016