Three finalists for St. Louis Park police chief introduce themselves

Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering chats with a visitor to a Feb. 16 open house at City Hall for St. Louis Park police chief finalists. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe) Lt. Michael Harcey of the St. Louis Park Police Department discusses his vision for the department at a Feb. 16 open house at City Hall for St. Louis Park police chief finalists. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe) Capt. Jim Franklin of the Metro Transit Police Department talks about his view of policing at a Feb. 16 open house at City Hall for St. Louis Park police chief finalists. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe)
Lt. Michael Harcey of the St. Louis Park Police Department discusses his vision for the department at a Feb. 16 open house at City Hall for St. Louis Park police chief finalists. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Seth Rowe)

St. Louis Park City Manager Tom Harmening will select a new police chief for the city from among three finalists, including the current Crystal police chief, a lieutenant from the St. Louis Park Police Department and a captain with the Metro Transit Police Department.

A total of 64 people applied for the St. Louis Park police chief position after former Chief John Luse announced his retirement, Harmening said. Luse retired along with former Deputy Chief Kirk DiLorenzo at the end of 2016. Lt. Chad Kraayenbrink has been serving as interim police chief.

The city hired the search firm Waters & Co. to help recruit candidates and select the finalists.

The city conducted open houses Feb. 16 and Feb. 19 at St. Louis Park City Hall with the three top candidates, Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering, Lt. Michael Harcey with the St. Louis Park Police Department and Capt. James Franklin of the Metro Transit Police Department.

The finalists made comments that were broadcast live on the city’s Facebook page Feb. 16.

All spoke about St. Louis Park’s community-oriented policing model.

Community-oriented policing organizational strategies “support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to address proactively the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The candidates spoke in alphabetical order.

Capt. Jim Franklin

Franklin said he grew up in a law enforcement family, with seven family members who are either retired or active in the profession.

“I’ve been blessed in my career with the opportunity to have served in both a suburban law enforcement agency at the Plymouth Police Department and in a large urban law enforcement agency in the Metro Transit Police Department,” Franklin said.

In Plymouth, he served as a uniformed patrol officer, school resource officer, field training officer, SWAT officer and a detective.

As an administrative lieutenant in the Metro Transit Police Department, he operated a $16 million budget, helped managed a dispatch center and “really learned the true value of the civilian staff and how they assist in the organization,” Franklin said.

He has been a patrol captain for the last four years and has been the commanding officer in the Metro Transit Police Department’s east and west precincts. His responsibilities have included community-oriented policing efforts.

“That’s part of a core value of mine,” Franklin said of community engagement. “I’ve spent an entire career engaging the community, building relationships and building partnerships.”

Franklin has helped implement a youth ambassador program and Safe Summer Nights initiative.

“Both of these programs involve bringing the police and the community and public and nonprofit organizations together with the sole goal of community connectiveness and building upon that bank of public trust,” Franklin said.

Regarding his interest in the St. Louis Park job, Franklin said, “First and foremost, St. Louis Park is a very progressive, well-respected community-oriented organization. I see a lot of organizational pride, not only in the department but also in this community. I have a desire to serve and be a leader within a type of organization like that.”

If named police chief, Franklin said he would build upon the department’s existing firm foundation and move forward with the goals of reducing crime through prevention, intervention, education and enforcement; developing police officers; and striving to attain the highest level of community engagement possible.

Lt. Michael Harcey

The only internal candidate among the finalists, Harcey has worked for the St. Louis Park Police Department for about 25 years.

He began his career as a community service officer in Richfield in 1990 before becoming a 911 dispatcher and then a police officer in the Richfield department.

In St. Louis Park, Harcey worked as a school liaison officer and sergeant before becoming a lieutenant about 10 years ago.

In his current position, he oversees two sergeants, seven investigators, four school liaison officers and the department’s community outreach group.

Harcey has been a use-of-force instructor and a union representative for patrol officers and sergeants.

As a lieutenant, he has been involved with the department’s training curriculum. He has also been involved with hiring community service officers and police officers in recent years.

“For me it’s a real personal mission to be here today seeking this position,” Harcey said. “I’m heavily invested into this community and in this police department. I’ve spent 25 years devoted to this department and this community, and I think I’ve come to understand community-oriented policing.”

He noted that he had been part of the process when the department transitioned from a traditional policing philosophy to the community-oriented policing model.

“I’ve been part of developing and building that culture here in our organization, and I know and I’ve seen how effective that service delivery model is for our community,” Harcey said. “I have every intention to continue with that model of policing and move it forward through further community engagement and work on ways that we can continue to build trust and partnership with our community.”

He praised the members of the police department.

“We have some of the finest police officers I’ve ever met,” Harcey said. “A great group of people – high energy, devoted to this community and this organization.”

Of St. Louis Park more generally, Harcey said, “It’s a great community; it’s a vibrant, progressive community.”

Chief Stephanie Revering

Revering originally attended North Hennepin Community College to study business fashion.

“Most people laugh at this point, and the reason why they laugh is it’s funny I actually chose a job where I wear a uniform all the time,” Revering said. “I took a few classes in business fashion and realized I was quite bored, and so I turned and took an intro to criminal justice class and fell in love.”

Her father served as the police chief in Anoka before he retired about 17 years ago, she noted.

Like the other finalists, Revering eventually obtained a masters degree related to her profession.

She began her law enforcement career as a community service officer in Crystal in 1997 and was promoted to police officer in 1998. In 2003, she became a patrol sergeant.

She learned about community-oriented policing during a 2007 conference in San Diego.

“I wanted to learn more about community policing because we at Crystal were not engaging in community policing because of our calls for service and the fact that we were just running from call to call to call,” Revering said. “So, I was fortunate enough to be sent out there, came back from that training and, in 2008, was fortunate enough to become the neighborhood policing coordinator.”

As a sergeant, she said she “worked with officers, worked with the community, and built a great community policing program in Crystal that we are still further trying to develop.”

She became deputy chief police in Crystal in 2009 before becoming police chief in 2012.

Revering said that she borrowed programming like Shop with a Cop and Coffee with a Cop from St. Louis Park and other community policing programs.

“All of these programs that actually engage our youth, our community, are very vital, and I truly believe in that mission,” Revering said.

She acknowledged that “the big question” is why she would leave Crystal, which she called a phenomenal city that has taught her everything she knows, for St. Louis Park.

“They truly are an innovative city that I want to work for,” Revering said of St. Louis Park.

She said making a hire outside the St. Louis Park Police Department could be “a hard thing to think about,” but said, “Well let me tell you this. I live in the west metro as well. I shop here. I eat here. I actually know police officers here. I know the community very well. And I would really like the opportunity to serve you.”

Harmening asked attendees of the open houses to fill out a comment card with their thoughts about the three finalists. He did not provide a time line for his decision on who will become the next police chief. Harmening may be reached at [email protected]

Contact Seth Rowe at [email protected]