The search for St. Paul's next chief of police continues, with eight remaining candidates set for interviews — six of them from within the department.
Around two dozen of the city's 39-member Chief of Police Examining Committee discussed the candidates Thursday as they whittled through 28 potential questions to ask them. Members pared those questions down to eight, focusing on how to make the process equal for internal and external candidates.
Five of those candidates could be picked for Mayor Melvin Carter's review by Oct. 3.
"The purpose of these questions is to get us from eight [candidates] to five," Committee Co-Chair Sasha Cotton said. "There may be questions that are really important to ask the top five candidates. That will come later from the mayor."
Six of the remaining candidates work at the St. Paul Police Department. Two are external applicants.
A recruiter is expected to start interviewing candidates on Saturday. Committee members will watch recorded video of those interviews, whittling down which names should be submitted to Carter at their Oct. 3 meeting.
Toni Newborn, the city's chief equity officer and human resources director, said the mayor hopes to schedule up to five public forums within two weeks of the committee's submission. Residents who attend those forums would be able to ask their own questions for prospective police chiefs to answer, but Newborn warned time is of the essence.
"The reality is that there are quite a few candidates that have other opportunities," Newborn said, mentioning that one applicant dropped out after accepting another job. "We don't want to do this over again. We don't want to go back and repeat [what happened] six years ago."
Six years ago, former police chief Thomas Smith's retirement launched a search for someone to replace him. Newborn said this year's hiring process is similar to that one, but 2016's search ended with three finalists — a violation of city ordinance that required the committee to restart its search.
The city already extended the deadline for this year's search to encourage more applications, but Carter hopes select a new chief this fall.