In unanimous vote, St. Paul City Council approves Todd Axtell as new police chief

The St. Paul City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Todd Axtell as the city’s next police chief.

In a short address following the vote, Axtell said that he was humbled by the appointment and that he had three immediate priorities for his six-year term: reducing gun violence, diversifying the Police Department and reaching “historic levels” of community engagement.

“I assure you that you have a chief in me who will ensure that all of our actions are reasonable, necessary and done with respect,” he said.

Mayor Chris Coleman selected Axtell, 48, as his choice to lead the department of 607 sworn officers. The resident of the city’s Highland Park neighborhood has served on the force for 27 years, and was one of five finalists for the job.

Council members praised Axtell for building strong community relationships and being responsive to their concerns and inquiries.

“He’s someone who is engaged and willing to listen,” said Council Member Dai Thao.

Axtell joined the department in 1989, quickly rising through the ranks under the mentorship of his predecessors. He most recently served as assistant chief of operations under Chief Thomas Smith, who retired May 10.

Axtell starts his first day as chief on Thursday. A swearing in ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. in Coleman’s office, and a “Meet Your Chief” event will be held from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the Safe Summer Nights event at Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Av.

Axtell said one of his first steps as chief will be to create a community engagement unit in the next few weeks. “I am incredibly grateful for our community,” he said, “and I’m incredibly grateful for the women and the men of the St. Paul Police Department.”