St. Paul police chief nominee sits down for first one-on-one interview

Commander Axel Henry says he’s ready for the challenge ahead of him, as he looks to become the next Chief of Police in St. Paul.

The St. Paul native is bullish about the future of the department, saying that rising crime is motivating a collaborative change in the neighborhoods he serves.

"This is our opportunity to connect everybody and bring them together and we have a bunch of people that want that to happen," said Henry. "It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how you feel about law enforcement, or how you vote politically… everyone wants safe neighborhoods for their family."

Henry took his first job with the city driving trucks for the Parks and Recreation Department. After joining the police department in 1998, he rose up through the ranks and currently leads the narcotics and human trafficking division.

Axel Henry has been nominated to become St. Paul next police chief. (FOX 9)

He recognizes that the current climate will make his new job a tough one, but he says it makes him more eager to serve.

"If you want to serve in a meaningful place in a meaningful time, there’s no other place I’d rather be," he said.

Henry believes his department can’t be successful without community partnerships, recognizing that there is a general distrust of law enforcement in some of the neighborhoods that they serve.

"One of the worst problems we have is we will do something in the name of law enforcement and someone they will see it and draw their own conclusion," he said. "The more we educate our community members and leaders they start to understand the why behind why we do things and when people understand it, they can embrace it, and we can have conversations about it."

Henry still needs to be confirmed by the St. Paul city council. A vote is expected next week.