St. Paul’s police chief wants 50 more officers — and time for them to get to know the people

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell told the city council Wednesday he wants to add about 50 officers during the next two years. He said the additional staff would allow new cops to have time to get to know the community before hitting the streets.

Axtell said more officers are also needed because of the city’s rising population and an increase in 911 calls, which has led to longer response times.

But Axtell said his priority is putting in place “a game-changing idea” of having officers spend six months in the community engagement unit after they finish the department’s academy.

“I firmly believe that when police officers get to know their community, we’re all better served before they police their community,” Axtell said. “… That six-month investment will pay dividends for a 30-year career of every police officer.”

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