The Potluck

MPD chief restructures, adds chiefs, acknowledges not all officers are behind him  

By: - August 7, 2023 8:59 pm

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara announces a restructuring Monday in downtown Minneapolis. Photo by Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara announced a restructuring of the department Monday, putting a new leadership team in place, arriving just as MPD enters a period of enhanced state and federal oversight

He named two assistant chiefs and five deputy chiefs, and reorganized the department into two divisions: Operations and Community Trust.

The assistant chief of operations, Katie Blackwell, will command day-to-day law enforcement and investigations. Blackwell has worked patrol in all five precincts and oversaw the training division. Since 2019, she has served as inspector of the 5th Precinct. She is the highest-ranking female non-commissioned officer in the Minnesota Army National Guard.

The new assistant chief of community trust, Christopher Gaiters, will oversee recruitment and command a newly created Constitutional Policing Bureau, a new Internal Affairs Bureau, and a restructured Professional Standards Bureau.

The new Constitutional Policing Bureau will shepherd implementation of the state settlement agreement and impending federal consent decree. The new Internal Affairs Bureau will house an internal complaints section, a force investigations section, and a candidate investigations section. The restructured Professional Standards Bureau will house the Training Division, Administrative Services, and Technology and Support Services Division.

O’Hara also appointed two new inspectors to the 2nd and 5th Precincts to fill openings created in part by the restructuring.

This year, state lawmakers repealed a law capping the number of deputy chiefs to three, allowing O’Hara to add deputy chiefs. 

O’Hara said the restructuring will bring Minneapolis in line with “best practices” among other major cities, particularly those facing court-mandated reforms. He said the new structure will ensure that no officer is unclear about their responsibilities and his expectations.

“Minneapolis was ground zero for a global reckoning on policing practices and racial justice. It is clear to me that Minneapolis can be the model,” O’Hara said during a rooftop press conference in downtown Minneapolis. “The last three years have been defined by unprecedented darkness and trauma. We must draw closer with our community members who share and carry the weight of that same shared trouble. It is only through collective healing that we can chart a brighter and stronger future together.”

The shakeup comes as MPD continues to deal with the loss of hundreds of officers since the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

All of the newly appointed people are veterans of MPD and the city, with 23 to 30 years of experience. O’Hara acknowledged the work of all of the city’s “great police officers,” but singled out the command staff, saying they’ve been “responsive,” and “loyal to their oaths,” and have served with professionalism and respect. 

When the Reformer asked O’Hara how the rank-and-file officers have responded to his leadership, he said most support him and have been expecting his changes. For those who don’t want change, he said, “I’m not their guy.”

O’Hara said he was surprised to find some people in Minnesota “don’t even think George Floyd was murdered.”

“I think that there’s definitely people who would disagree with me. But I think by and large, the vast majority of our police officers are not in that camp, and they want to move forward. And I think these kinds of changes are just necessary for them to start to heal.”

MPD will begin holding community listening sessions about the coming federal consent decree in the coming weeks.

The other new appointments are:

  • Deputy Chief of Patrol Jon Kingsbury will lead five precinct Inspectors and the day-to-day operations of the patrol division.
  • Deputy Chief of Investigations Jason Case will supervise criminal investigations, including oversight of the Forensics Division, the Special Crimes Investigations Division, and the Violent Crimes Investigations Division.
  • Deputy Chief of Constitutional Policing Travis Glampe will oversee the bureau that houses the implementation unit, coordinates with the city attorney’s office and other city departments, as well as serves as a liaison to implement the state settlement agreement and a coming federal consent decree.
  • Deputy Chief of Internal Affairs DeChristopher Granger will oversee the internal complaints section, the force investigations section, and the candidate investigations section.
  • Deputy Chief of Professional Standards Mark Montgomery will oversee the training, Administrative Services, and the Technology and Support Services Division.
  • 2nd Precinct Inspector Nick Torborg will oversee patrol and investigations in the precinct.
  • 5th Precinct Inspector Christie Nelson will oversee patrol and investigations in the precinct.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.