St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington, who is leaving the job after six years when his term expires this summer, has been rumored to be a top candidate for the open job of superintendent of police in New Orleans. Today when I ran into Harrington at the state Capitol (Minnesota’s Capitol, in St. Paul), he said rumors that he’s a leading candidate for the Big Easy job — as reported in the Louisiana media — are premature.
“People keep telling me that. But they just opened it up for applications Friday, so it’s too early to say I’m a front-runner,” he said.
New Orleans Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu announced that applications are due April 2 and that he hopes to fill the position before he takes office in May.
Harrington said New Orleans city leaders are very interested in community policing — where officers are more visible and helpful within the community, rather than guarding over it from the outside — but whoever gets the job will have many challenges because the citizens of New Orleans don’t trust the police department because of charges of rampant corruption.
“It’s tough to have community policing when the community doesn’t trust the police department,” he said.
But despite the difficulties, it was obvious in our brief chat that he’s interested and would like to take on the challenges, if offered.