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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has named his top candidate to lead the city's Department of Civil Rights.

Michelle Phillips currently serves as the inspector general for the city of Oakland, Calif., and would bring a deep expertise in civilian oversight of police, provide leadership in the promotion of constitutional policing and build departmental infrastructure to ensure thorough and fair investigative processes, the mayor said in putting Phillips' name forward.

"Michelle has dedicated much of her professional life to enhancing accountability in government," Frey said in a statement Wednesday. "Her deep experience and community-oriented approach is the right fit to lead the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department."

Phillips' nomination has been forwarded to the City Council for a confirmation hearing. If approved, Phillips would start work in Minneapolis in July.

Phillips would replace Alberder Gillespie, who was fired in February after superiors concluded she posed "an immediate threat" to the city's ability to reform policing in accordance with a court-approved settlement. City records showed the Office of Police Conduct Review — a division of the Civil Rights Department — was not dealing with complaints of police conduct in a timely manner as part of the city's latest efforts at civilian oversight of police misconduct.

Gillespie had held the position since November 2021 and was paid $179,000. Her term was to expire in 2026.

City Operations Officer Margaret Anderson Kelliher has been acting as the interim director since Gillespie was let go.

Phillips, if confirmed, would oversee the department's 46 employees who are tasked with enforcing city code ordinances, investigating discriminatory practices, ensuring the protection of members of protected classes, and promoting the understanding of civil rights among residents, businesses and government. The department, through its Office of Police Conduct Review, plays a role in implementing reform efforts required by the settlement agreement the city reached with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

"Michelle brings a wealth of experience from peer cities, particularly in implementing police oversight measures," Kelliher said. "This leadership and change-management expertise will benefit the City of Minneapolis at a critical moment for our Civil Rights Department."

Said Phillips, "I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as the next Director of Civil Rights. This is a critical time for civil rights, and I am dedicated to working with all stakeholders as we move towards a more just and equitable Minneapolis."