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Police Chief Defends His Department After Councilman Alleges “Institutional Racism”

Police Chief Defends His Department After Councilman Alleges “Institutional Racism”

After community members disrupted a St. Paul (MN) City Council meeting Wednesday over a fatal officer-involved shooting, council member Dai Thao wrote in a Facebook post, “I alone cannot change police policies, but if we work together, we can end systemic and institutional racism.”

Police Chief Todd Axtell responded on the police department’s Facebook page Friday: “While I agree that community involvement is critically important to democracy and that everyone has a voice, I cannot begin to express how disappointed I am in some of Councilmember Thao’s words. His sweeping generalizations about our police department are untrue. They are also an insult to all SPPD employees — sworn and civilian — who work hard on behalf of the city.”

Thao is the most vocal voice on the city council about police reform and is running for St. Paul mayor this year.

Axtell, who rose through the St. Paul Police Department’s ranks, became chief in June.

Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that it is unprecedented for a St. Paul police chief to take such a public stand against an elected official.

Thao’s post thanked Black Lives Matter organizers “for bringing our youth to city hall” for the council meeting.

At issue was how police handled the Cordale Handy incident that occurred on March 15th.

Two St. Paul officers shot Handy, who was 29 years old and African-American, after Handy pointed a gun twice at officers and refused to drop the weapon when officers commanded him to do so.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety continues to investigate the shooting.


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  1. Fire_and_Steel

    What would the councilman prefer that the officers do? Talk the suspect into being so bored that he drops the gun? Wait until he points it a third time, and maybe shoots an officer or another person?

  2. Katrina

    Sounds like Thao is a liberal, pandering for BLM votes. So sad for our country that politicians get elected by pushing lies.

  3. GarandFan

    Thao, next time you need a police officer, call the ACLU or BLM instead. I’m sure they’ll drop everything to assist you.

  4. Donald Benedict

    Well as Steve Loomis CPPA Union Chief(Cleveland Police Dept. Cleveland, OH) just commented on this on Facebook bringing this incident nonsense to our attention, that lowlife pointed a gun at officers 1 to many times and the officers were in the right to fire their weapons as a matter of self protection.

  5. Chas

    This is beyond ridiculous. Having people like this in elected positions is ruining our country and the reason why it is becoming more and more difficult to find people who want to do the job of police officer. Stiring up trouble with racist sttements and thanking a group of thugs like black lives matter is pitiful. How pititful to think any idiot would expect police to have guns pointed at them along with a refulsal to put it down and not protect themselves. Wow this country seems hopeless with these kind of idiots in government.

    • freeinaz

      That really is a special type of stupid right there. Problem is the morons will vote this clueless idiot in as Mayer and then wonder why the city is going down the tubes under his complete ignorance.

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