Brian O'Hara, deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey, speaks to reporters on Thursday, September 29, after Mayor Jacob Frey announced O'Hara's nomination to be the next Minneapolis police chief. Credit: Ben Hovland | MPR News

This story comes to you from MPR News through a partnership with Sahan Journal.

Brian O’Hara, deputy mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who oversees policing strategy in that city, is Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s choice to be the next Minneapolis police chief. 

“Minneapolis has been asking for change and Brian O’Hara has answered that call,” Frey told reporters as he announced his choice Thursday morning.

Frey said discussions with neighborhood groups identified the need for a “reform-minded” candidate and a “change maker” as the next chief, and O’Hara fit the bill. 

Frey noted O’Hara had success in driving down shootings in Newark. He also said O’Hara’s experience in Newark handling a consent decree was important. Minneapolis is under a United States Justice Department investigation for its police practices, and patterns, and those investigations tend to result in a consent decree, a formal agreement on changes the department must take.

The Minneapolis City Council must still approve O’Hara. The nomination is likely go to the City Council Thursday next week. The mayor’s office is hoping the new chief will be confirmed by early November.

O’Hara, 43, called the problem of street crime “urgent” in Minneapolis and that addressing the city’s gun violence was his priority.

“All people have a right to feel safe,” he said. “It should not matter what neighborhood you live in.” He asked critics of the Minneapolis Police Department to give him a chance at making needed changes.

O’Hara said the idea that policing should “go away or be abolished is unrealistic,” but said he was committed to holding officers accountable.

O’Hara has been with Newark police since 2001. He was appointed public safety director of Newark in 2021, overseeing a department of almost 1,000 police officers, more than 600 firefighters, and a budget of about $200 million.

In July, Newark’s mayor named O’Hara a deputy mayor overseeing policing strategy. While the city characterized it as a promotion, the Newark Star-Ledger reported at the time that O’Hara was removed as public safety director following an uptick in crime.

The city of Newark denied a request from MPR News for O’Hara’s personnel and disciplinary records. 

Minneapolis leaders had narrowed the field of potential police chiefs to three—all of them from out of state. They included O’Hara, Elvin Carren, a former Detroit cop and chief of police in Southfield, Michigan; and Charlottesville, Virginia, police chief RaShall Brackney.

Interim chief Amelia Huffman, who has been with the department since 1994, was not on the list. Chief Medaria Arradondo retired in January after saying he would not accept a third term running the department.

Minneapolis has hired chiefs from outside the department at least three times in recent decades, including Tony Bouza, from New York City; William McManus, from Dayton, Ohio; and Robert Olson, who had headed police departments in New York and Texas.

Watch: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced Brian O’Hara as his pick to be the next chief of police:

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