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Mayor nominates Brian O’Hara for Minneapolis police chief




Jacob Frey wants O’Hara to steer the community into a new chapter of law enforcement, and stem the violent crime plaguing neighborhoods and downtown.

MINNEAPOLIS — The mayor of Minneapolis has selected the person he wants to lead the city’s police department into its next chapter. 

After a nationwide search process that stretched on for more than six months, Mayor Jacob Frey has nominated Brian O’Hara as the next Minneapolis police chief. O’Hara, currently serving as deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was selected from a group of three finalists named by a search committee in early September.

Frey points to O’Hara’s decades of experience in law enforcement, starting as a street cop and rising through the ranks to become Public Safety Director of Newark, overseeing more than 1,900 hundred employees and a department with an annual budget of $200 million. In that role he carved out a working relationship with federal, state and local partners, while enacting criminal justice reforms. 

“We will take the MPD from the darkness and trauma that has been experienced in this city and create a beacon of light for policing across this country. The foundation of policing is trust,” O’Hara said at the news conference. “And as the Minneapolis Chief of Police, I will work day and night to ensure the residents of this city can trust that they feel safe and all the people in this city will know that the MPD has their backs.”

The Minneapolis City Council still needs to vote on whether or not to approve O’Hara. When Mayor Frey was asked if he had the City Council’s backing for O’Hara, Frey said he would not speak for them. 

The mayor’s nomination will be submitted to the City Council at its meeting on Thursday, October 6. At that point it will be assigned to a committee for review – KARE 11’s John Croman says it will most likely be the Health and Public Safety committee.

The committee will hold hearings and eventually forward its recommendation to the full City Council for a vote. Mayor Frey is hoping for a vote in October or early November at the latest.

“Minneapolis has been asking for change, and Brian O’Hara is ready to deliver longstanding solutions,” said Mayor Frey in a news release. “I’ve said all along that this is among the most consequential hires I will make as mayor, and I know that Brian is the right choice.”

The structure of law enforcement has changed significantly following the death of George Floyd at the hands of former MPD officer Derek Chauvin. Community anger with the department’s checkered history and dissatisfaction with the status quo led to the hiring of Cedric Alexander as the city’s first Community Safety Commissioner. 

Alexander is in charge of all the city’s community safety departments, including Police, Fire, 911, Emergency Management, and the Office of Violence Prevention (Neighborhood Safety). That means he is the new chief’s boss. 

The police chief job unofficially opened in December of 2021 with the announced departure of Medaria Arradondo, who was at the helm of MPD at the time of Floyd’s death and the widespread unrest that followed. Arradondo spent more than 30 years rising through the ranks of the department and five years as the city’s first Black police chief, and Thursday’s nomination could be interpreted as a move to start with a clean slate. 

The nominee has experience working in a department that has experienced consent decrees, basically court-enforced mandates to guide policing practices after systematic failures. These are likely to come to Minneapolis soon as a result of either a state investigation, federal Department of Justice investigation, or both. 

“I personally think that’s an important attribute to bring to this new role,” Jenkins recently said of operating under a consent decree. “We need a nimble chief that understands that process, that work, and to be engaged in that.”  

Following the nomination, Jenkins told KARE 11 in a statement that “I look forward to going through a rigorous confirmation process as well as gauging community reactions and input on Mayor Frey’s nomination of Brian O’Hara.”

O’Hara earned a reputation among peers in Newark as a change-maker, highlighted by his role in overseeing the consent decree. 

Philip R. Sellinger, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, told KARE 11 in a phone interview that O’Hara’s work was “transformational” in Newark.

“With Brian as the police director in Newark, it was a prime example of how you can have both robust law enforcement and protection of civil rights at the same time,” Sellinger said. “I can tell you that we at the U.S. Attorney’s Office had no better partner than the Newark Police Department under Brian’s leadership.”

Here is a biography the city provided when O’Hara was named one of the three finalists for the position. 

Brian O’Hara currently serves as the Deputy Mayor of the City of Newark (NJ). In 2001, Deputy Mayor O’Hara joined the Newark Police Department as a police officer, rising through the ranks to become a captain in 2016. In 2021, he was appointed as the Public Safety Director for Newark overseeing more than 1,960 employees, comprising 996 sworn police officers, 611 firefighters, and 346 civilian employees, and a budget that exceeded $200 million. In that role, Deputy Mayor O’Hara enhanced the collaborative working relationships among federal, state, and local partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Newark Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, and numerous other state and local agencies and police departments.

Watch the latest political coverage from the Land of 10,000 Lakes in our YouTube playlist:

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Dog attack leaves 7-year-old with visual injuries




A dog attack has left a 7-year-old girl with scrapes on her legs and back and cuts on her lips.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — A 7-year-old who was hurt in a dog attack Tuesday is still processing what happened.

“I was just walking and then it pushed me and started attacking me,” said Yamah Yekeku.

She went to drop off a package at her neighbor’s home. Then the dog ran toward her.

“It’s is third time chasing somebody,” Yekeku said.

Her mother Mary Innis pointed out the scrapes on her legs and back, and the little cuts on her lips.

The dog who attacked her is a part of 13-year-old Yazmina Warsame’s family.

“She was really sweet, she was very playful,” she said.

Warsame said her dog’s name was Diamond, a 1-year-old Pitbull.

“Diamond didn’t mean to hurt nobody, she just wanted to play and they killed her for it,” she said.

Brooklyn Park Police and shot killed the dog because they said it went after another child.

“The animal actually ran into a playground area, a park area in an apartment complex and there were two young children that were in the park. The dog took off after one of the children and was trying to bite that child,” said Brooklyn Park Police Precinct Inspector and Public Information Officer Elliot Faust.

Faust said a cadet lifted the child up to his shoulder to protect him.

“The dog was jumping up actively trying to bite the child and that’s when one of our officers shot him,” Faust said.

He said the 7-year-old was treated for her injuries at the scene. Innis said she took her daughter to the doctor’s office on Wednesday to get a rabies shot as a precaution.

Tuesday’s incident was the second dog attack to happen within Brooklyn Park. A 3-year-old was attacked by two Pitbulls, last Friday. Faust said the child’s injuries were extensive, and he’s still recovering in the hospital. He said that attack was the worst dog attack he has ever seen.

“These are not common, they don’t happen frequently, so it is kind of strange that we’re talking about two in one week,” Faust said.

Faust want community members to be more aware of their surroundings and to understand their dog. He said they’ve had more dangerous dog designations so far this year than all of last year.

“As a dog owner it is your responsibility to take control of the animal,” Faust said. One mistake that happens can have tragic consequences.”

Warsame said her dog was just hyper. Diamond also had long nails, Warsame said they were planning to cut.

She’s heartbroken her dog is gone and doesn’t understand why police had to kill her. She wants people to know her dog wasn’t mean.

“People take advantage of the way a big dog looks, they don’t know her personality, so people might have called her mean and I don’t people to think Diamond is mean, and I feel like it’s important to share. She wasn’t a mean dog, she was never a mean dog,” Warsame said.

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MN church group stranded for days in New Orleans




The group was originally supposed to be home this past Saturday.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Twin Cities church group is on its way home tonight, after spending the last few days stranded in New Orleans.

“We are really sick of the airport,” Leisha Tays, supervising the trip, said in a FaceTime call from the airport.

That trip, to the Evangelical Lutherans in America Youth Gathering, was supposed to end this past Saturday.

“Every once in awhile, it would just get bumped back farther and farther and farther,” she said.

That group from Our Saviours’ Lutheran Church in East Bethel consists of 14, mostly made up of kids. Tays says it’s been a challenge to figure out their next steps with a group so big.

“It is frustrating, but I also know it’s nothing I can control,” Tays said. “That’s what I keep telling my kids that I’m here with, is that you can only control yourself.”

“Doing our best, what else do you do, right?” she added.

To keep themselves busy, they’ve spent time exploring New Orleans, a vacation that they were initially alright with extending. They quickly realized there were challenges that came with that, including working through Delta’s vouchers, which covered not nearly enough for a group their size.

“We have been given three $12 meal vouchers per person, which doesn’t really cover much,” Tays said. “Especially in four days.”

They made it through thanks to donations from their church members back home, donating to keep the crew fed.

“A lot of details, and everything went great until it didn’t,” Lisa Rykken Kastler, Director of Congregational Ministries for the church, said.

“There wasn’t even an ask, the situation was such that, ok, you’re gonna need money,” Rykken Kastler added.

At the time of this article’s writing, Tays tells KARE11 that they’re finally taxiing, ready to take off and come home – a vacation they can’t wait to end.

“We’re just exhausted, you know?” she said. “There’s the emotional and the physical exhaustion that’s going on, and we’re ready.”

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Met Council asks cities to sign-off on Blue Line Extension plans




The Met Council is asking several cities to sign off on the preliminary design for the Blue Light Extension.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — The communities along the proposed METRO Blue Line Extension are getting a chance to review and discuss the proposed plans with the public. 

The METRO Blue Line Extension is anticipated to be 13.4 miles between Target Field and Brooklyn Park, and would also run through Crystal and Robbinsdale. The Met Council hopes to start service in 2030, and estimate total ridership would be nearly 30,000 daily trips. 

Now, community leaders will be asked to consent to major project elements like where stations are located and where tracks will go. According to the Met Council, many project details haven’t been determined and the plans leave a lot of room for future design choices.

“This process gives people an opportunity to participate in the line through their elected officials,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in a press release. “This is a big investment that will serve our region for the next 100 years.”

Each of the municipalities will hold a public meeting and then vote before October 10, the Met Council said. 

“No matter how well we design a project, we need each city to let us know how it will fit into their neighborhoods and serve their communities,” said Zelle. “We’ve held weekly meetings for the past four years to ensure our designs are on the mark. But it’s up to each city council to approve preliminary design plans or recommend changes.”

The proposed plans can be viewed by clicking here.

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