Judge Barnette approved as Minneapolis Community Safety Commissioner

The Minneapolis City Council has voted to approve Hennepin County Judge Toddrick Barnette as its next Community Safety Commissioner following the retirement of Cedric Alexander.

Approved by a 12-1 vote, with council member Robin Wonsley as the only nay vote, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey previously nominated Barnette last month to assume the role of coordinating the city’s police, fire, and emergency response departments. His four-year term will end in January 2026.

"This is what the next phase of community safety will look like. I can tell you Judge Barnette meets the criteria of what we look for going forward," said Frey on Thursday at a press conference following the council's approval. "It's my intention to have Judge Barnette here for the long-haul."

Barnette will officially resign his position as a judge on Friday at 5 p.m., and be sworn-in for the new role on Monday at 8:30 a.m.

Barnette previously told FOX 9’s Paul Blume during a one-on-one interview that he is excited about the challenge, acknowledging there will be a lot of politics and plenty of scrutiny as the highest-paid public employee in Minneapolis. Barnette, 57, has no experience as either a police or fire chief, or running an emergency management office, but says he has spent the last few weeks familiarizing himself with the five agencies he will oversee in advance of the confirmation hearing.

"As a basic principle, we will have transparency and accountability," said Barnette at a press conference following the council's approval. "When I got my first public defenders' job I had all these goals and plans and priorities, but it was a disaster because I didn’t get input and buy-in. I haven’t prioritized anything in any particular order… But we need to uplift neighborhood safety and crime prevention."

Barnette pointed to staffing for police and 911 as a main priority he will look to tackle.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Barnette was first appointed a Chief Judge of the Fourth Judicial District in Hennepin County on Feb. 6, 2006. He was elected in 2008, 2014, and 2020.

Barnette shared some early visions for a reimagined public safety model, one, where if at all possible, the last contact for a community member in distress is an officer wearing the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) badge.

Alexander, who previously held the role, retired on Sept. 1, 2023, after being hired in August 2022. He was the city’s highest-paid employee, with a salary reportedly between $292,000 and $350,000. Alexander previously said he would offer guidance when Frey asks for it.

"I think Dr. Alexander laid a good foundation. He has offered some personal advice about being in this role as a black man, saying I can call him anytime," Barnette said Thursday. "This work is important and will take some time."