Saint Paul Police Department

The Saint Paul Police Department (SPPD) is the main law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States. It was established in 1854, making it the oldest police organization in the state. In the beginning the men did not have a stationhouse. Prisoners were taken to the Fort Snelling brig until the city built a jail. The SPPD is the second largest law enforcement agency in Minnesota, after the Minneapolis Police Department. The department consists of 575 sworn officers[1] and 200 non-sworn officials.[2][3] The current Chief of Police is Axel Henry. He is the 42nd chief in the history of the St. Paul Police Department and was sworn in November 2022.

Saint Paul Police Department
MottoTrusted Service with Respect
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionSaint Paul, Minnesota, USA
Map of Saint Paul Police Department's jurisdiction
Size56.2 square miles (146 km2)
Population285,068 (2010)
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters367 Grove St.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Police Officers575[1]
Agency executive
  • Central
  • Eastern
  • Western
Saint Paul Police Department



In 1920 St. Paul Councilman and Public Safety Commissioner Aloysius Smith, requested that the St. Paul Police start a Police program for the youth.[4] Sergeant Frank Hetznecke was selected to create the program.[4] In its first year, 750 students signed up for the training program and in February 1921 the first student monitored crossing took place with students from Cathedral school on Kellogg Blvd.[4] Sergeant Hetznecke is credited with introducing the Sam Browne belt and badge that became synonymous with school patrol across the country and administering St. Paul's program for 30 years.[4]

During the Prohibition era, the department was remarkably corrupt. In 1936, the chief, Thomas Brown was fired after an investigation showed he had protected criminals including the Dillinger and the Barker-Karpis gangs.[5]

An arrest outside of a bar on 26 September 2010 is the subject of a lawsuit that claims excessive force.[6] In March 2011, the elite Gang Strike Force was disestablished when a state audit could not account for 13 vehicles and over $18,000 in cash the unit had seized. The auditor's report indicated that Officer Ron Ryan had sold property his detail had retained.[7] Press reports indicated the unit used money taken from gang members to attend a 2009 professional conference held in Hawaii.[8][9] The SPPD had two prominent incidents of misconduct in relation to their dogs in 2016 and 2017.[10][11]

Command structure

Title Insignia
Chief of Police
Assistant Chief of Police
Deputy Chief of Police
Senior Commander
Sergeant (see note)
Police Officer

NOTE: By contract, all investigators (detectives) hold the rank of sergeant.[citation needed]

  • The time that a uniformed sergeant holds this rank is shown by arcs below the chevrons, one for each 5 years after promotion. After three are obtained the next 5 year periods give progressively a diamond and then a star in the field between the arcs and chevrons. Although this is analogous to the uniforms of the United States Army, no additional command authority is granted.

List of Chief of Police[12]

Name Dates
William R. Miller 1854-1858
John W. Crosby 1858-1859
John O'Gorman 1859-1861
Horace H. Western 1861
James Gooding 1861-1863
Michael Cummings 1863-1864
John R. Cleveland 1864-1865
George Turnbull 1865-1866
John Jones 1866-1867
James P. McIlrath 1867-1870
Luther J. Eddy 1870-1872
James P. McIlrath 1872-1874
James King 1875-1878
Charles Weber Jr. 1875-1878
John Clark 1883-1892
Albert Garvin 1892-1894
John Clark 1894-1896
Michael N. Goss 1896-1900
Parker L. Getchell 1900
John J. O'Connor 1900-1912
Frederick M. Catlin 1912
Martin J. Flanagan 1912-1913
Michael Gebhardt 1913-1914 (Acting)
John J. O'Connor 1914-1920
Thomas E. Campbell 1920-1921
Henry J. Crepeau 1921-1922
Michael Gebhardt 1922
Frank W. Sommer 1922-1923
Michael Gebhardt 1923-1924
Edward J. Murnane 1924-1930
Thomas E. Dahill 1930 (Acting)
Thomas A. Brown 1930-1932
Thomas E. Dahill 1932-1934
Frank R. Cullen 1934
Michael J. Culligan 1934-1935
Gustave H. Barfuss 1935
Charles W. Coulter 1935-1936
Clinton A. Hackert 1936-1943
Charles J. Tierney 1943-1952
Neal McMahon 1952-1954
Albert A. Anderson 1954-1955 (Acting)
William F. Proetz 1955-1961
Frank A. Schmidt 1960-1961 (Acting)
Lester McAuliffe 1961-1970
Robert LaBathe 1970 (Acting)
Richard H. Rowan 1970-1979
Robert LaBathe 1980
William W. McCutcheon 1980-1992
William Finney 1992-2004
J. Mark Harrington 2004-2010
Thomas E. Smith 2010-2016
Kathy Wuorinen 2016 (Interim)
Todd D. Axtell 2016-2022
Jeremy A. Ellison 2022 (Interim)
Axel C. Henry 2022-

Department awards


The department has only issued medals / awards since 1971. The current medals are:[2]

  • Medal of Valor Class A
  • Medal of Merit Class B
  • Medal of Commendation
  • Life Saving Award
  • Chief's Award For Valor
  • Chief's Award For Merit
  • Chief's Award
  • Officer of the Year
  • Detective of the Year
  • Civilian Employee of the year

Department size[3]


Like most major cities, the city of St. Paul saw a population decline beginning in the late 1960s. However, the department continued to grow.[3][13]

Year City Population Sworn Officers Non-Sworn Law Enforcement Personnel
1849 910 4
1858 7,000 11
1863 10,401 10
1871 20,030 19
1888 133,156 160
1900 163,065 195
1920 234,698 357
1930 271,606 358
1940 287,736 345
1950 311,329 368 26
1960 313,411 389 43
1970 309,980 463 69
1983 270,230 495
1990 272,235 524 131
2000 287,151 547 211
2010 285,068 560 300
2013 290,770 630 350
2023 303,176 575 225

See also



  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b City of St. Paul, MN - Official Website - Police Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c Saint Paul Police Historical Society — Home
  4. ^ a b c d Origins of the School Safety Patrol, 1921, MNOPEDIA, Minnesota Historical Society website, Eric W. Weber, St. Paul, Minnesota, published: October 29, 2012,[1]
  5. ^ Walsh, James (25 June 2021). "Did St. Paul really protect gangsters during the Prohibition era?". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  6. ^ Man's suit says St. Paul police brutalized him, by: Chris Havens, Star Tribune, 4 October 2010
  7. ^ Gang Strike Force shut down after audit finds $18,000, 13 cars missing, by Randy Furst, Star Tribune, 23 March 2011
  8. ^ Several officials criticize Gang Strike Force's publicly funded Hawaii trip, by Randy Furst, Star Tribune, 5 April 2009. In January 2011, SPPD officers roughed up and used a taser on a black man while that man was peacefully waiting for his kids in a public area
  9. ^ St. Paul man from cellphone arrest video identified; police dropped charges in July | Twin Cities Daily Planet
  10. ^ Reeves, Mel (2021-03-27). "Recent police misconduct in St. Paul and Minneapolis have raised alarm". Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  11. ^ "Minnesota police dog attacks innocent woman taking out her garbage, video shows". 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Saint Paul Police Federation

44°57′23″N 93°5′9″W / 44.95639°N 93.08583°W / 44.95639; -93.08583