Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman announced three new department administrative appointments Wednesday, changing the leadership of the internal affairs, recruitment and training divisions.
Huffman named department veterans Christopher Gaiters as deputy chief of staff, Troy Schoenberger as deputy chief of professional standards and Jose Gomez as Third Precinct inspector.
Schoenberger has been with the department 24 years, while Gaiters and Gomez have been with the force 28 years.
At a news conference, Huffman described the three as stepping into "key roles working with community to increase safety, rebuild relationships and strengthen the capacity of the department."
The appointments mark the first leadership changes under Huffman, who assumed her role as interim chief last week after the retirement of Medaria Arradondo. She has expressed interest in taking the job long-term after her interim appointment ends.
"I'm so very grateful that they've stepped into these roles as we work with our officers and our partners in the community to strengthen support, uplift and improve the department so that together we can provide the service that our city needs and be the workplace where our employees can grow into strong careers," she said.
As deputy chief of staff, Gaiters will lead the department's recruitment efforts, background investigations and community service officers program. He takes on the job once held by Art Knight, who was stripped of the position after publicly questioning the department's hiring practices. Knight has since sued the department.
Gaiters' appointment comes as the city faces pressure to hire nearly 200 officers by the summer. Mayor Jacob Frey has recently acknowledged that accelerated hiring amid a rise in homicides and other violent crimes is "a heavy lift."
"We're looking everywhere," Gaiters said Wednesday. "We're looking at laterals, we're looking within the city, we're looking outside of the city."
As he seeks out the next classes of recruits, Gaiters said, he wants people who have a "drive to serve the community, engage with the community, listen primarily to the community and act on that [drive]."
Potential recruits should also be trustworthy and understand accountability, he said.
"My expectation is going to be that when we see something that isn't working, we need to engage with our community, find out what they want and serve them in that manner," he said.
Gaiters has been with the department since 1994 and has been an officer in several units, including the community response team and organized crime. He served 14 years as a homicide investigator.
As deputy chief of professional standards, Schoenberger will fill the position Huffman vacated and oversee the internal affairs, training, administrative services and technology units. With the department since 1998, he's worked in every precinct.
He was a sergeant in Internal Affairs, the narcotics unit, the financial crimes unit and the First, Second, and Fifth Precincts. He's led various investigations as a lieutenant, including the gun unit. Most recently, he served as commander in Internal Affairs.
At the news conference, he said creating relationships and building partnerships in the community will be a focus in his new role. He also vowed to take a "deep dive" in assessing the quality of the department's training.
"We want to make sure that the current officers and incoming officers are equipped to engage the community effectively," he said. "That they're caring, that they're able to connect with the community, that they are effective communicators, that they have courage in the face of danger, and that they have the character that we're looking for, which includes the moral fortitude to do what's right."
As the inspector of the Third Precinct, Gomez will lead the officers responsible for the city's southeastern communities and the area with the largest Latino population. He joined the department in 1994 and recently worked as a lieutenant in the juvenile outreach division, gun violence response and Third Precinct. He replaces outgoing Third Precinct Inspector Sean McGinty, who will be the Second Precinct inspector.
"I have done a good job of making connections with the Latino community, I have to continue that with all communities in the Third Precinct," he said. " . . . We're going to show up if you have a meeting. Let's talk. And if there's any concerns, let's talk about it."
The Third Precinct has yet to be permanently relocated since it was burned down during the uprising that followed George Floyd's death in 2020. As of Wednesday, neither Gomez nor Huffman had an update on a potential permanent location.