Exiting the Legislature, state Sen. Harrington lands Metro Transit police chief job

After losing the DFL endorsement, state Sen. John Harrington decided not to run for re-election in November for his St. Paul seat.

Now Harrington, who was St. Paul’s police chief from 2004 to 2010, is returning to his law enforcment roots. He’s been hired as Metro Transit chief of police, starting Sept. 4.

He replaces the  former chief, Dave Indrehus, who retired in January.  Deputy Chief A.J. Olson has been serving as acting chief. Olson and Minneapolis Deputy Chief Robert Allen were also finalists for the chief job.

Metropolitan Council Regional Administrator Pat Born made the hire. He said in a statement:

“John is deeply knowledgeable about law enforcement. He is a demonstrated and experienced leader. And, having served with Metro Transit Police for more than a decade, he is familiar with policing transit. I have every confidence that John will continue the Council’s commitment to a safe and secure transit system.”

He retired from the St. Paul department in 2010, after serving a six-year term as chief, then ran for the safe DFL state Senate seat after Mee Moua stepped down.

Harrington won a nine-person party primary and then easily won in the general election. He served on the Education, Judiciary and Public Safety and Local Government and Elections committees.

In his bid for re-election this year, he failed to get the votes needed for endorsement at the party convention and then decided to drop out. Foung Hawj ended up winning the DFL primary this month and is expected to win the seat in the November general election.

In May, after failing to get the party endorsement, Harrington told the Pioneer Press that he was leaving politics because he was tired of the divisive politics at the Capitol:

“I did not have the passion for it the way it deserves,” Harrington said of his brief tenure in the Legislature. “I don’t really feel like we made the kind of significant change the community and state needed.”

Now Harrington will head the Metro Transit Police Department, which has  69 full-time officers and 55 part-time officers who ride along on buses and trains, checking in with operators and customers, patrol transit routes and waiting areas and inspect fares on the Hiawatha (Blue Line) and Northstar trains.

Harrington was with the St. Paul police force for 33 years, the last six as chief. That department has about 600 sworn officers.

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