St. Paul’s new neighborhood safety director leaves Metro Transit under cloud

Brooke Blakey, Director of the Saint Paul Office of Neighborhood Safety (City of Saint Paul / Supplied)

St. Paul’s new director of Neighborhood Safety, Brooke Blakey, is leaving her former employer, Metro Transit Police, under a cloud of suspicion.

Blakey, the former Chief of Staff for Metro Transit Police, had been the subject of an internal investigation for several months.

FOX 9 reported in August that Blakey and an unidentified sergeant had been put on administrative leave at Metro Transit Police, pending an investigation into their activities with a volunteer community program.

On Tuesday, Metro Transit Police spokesperson Howie Padilla declined to comment on the status of the internal investigation or the circumstances of Blakey’s departure.

"Metro Transit and the Metropolitan Council are not at this time commenting on Blakey’s employment status today except to say that she is not an employee of the Metro Transit Police Department," Padilla wrote in an email.

On Monday, Mayor Melvin Carter appointed Blakey as the director of St. Paul’s new Office of Neighborhood Safety, a key part of the city’s ‘Community-First Public Safety’ approach.

In announcing his new appointment, Carter said in a press release, "Brooke Blakey’s career of public service will be invaluable as she engages in this new role and supports our work to realize safer outcomes in every neighborhood."

Her first day as director will be February 28.

During her career with Metro Transit Police, Capt. Blakey served as Chief of Staff to Metro Transit Police Chief Eddie Frizell. In November, President Biden nominated Frizell to serve as U.S. Marshall for the District of Minnesota.  He still awaits confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

At Metro Transit Police, Blakey oversaw operations, investigations, administration, and community outreach.  She also developed the department’s Homeless Action Team (HAT).

It is not uncommon for public employees to resign while an investigation is pending.  It exploits a loophole in the State’s public records law, Minnesota Data Practices, because if an employee resigns before discipline is sustained, it is not considered public.

But in Blakey’s case, because of her supervisory role, she could likely be considered a "public official" as it's defined in statute.

Under state law, "if a public official resigns or is terminated from employment while the complaint or charge is pending, all data relating to the complaint or charge are public, unless access to the data would jeopardize an active investigation or reveal confidential sources." (Minnesota Statute 13.43 Subd. 2(e)).

Blakey is a lifelong St. Paul resident.  Her father, Art Blakey, was the long-time Minnesota State Fair Chief of Police, who died in 2018.

FOX 9 has reached out to Blakey and Mayor Carter and is awaiting a response.