Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has nominated Hennepin County Chief Judge Todd Barnette to serve as the city’s next community safety commissioner, the mayor’s office announced in a news release Monday.
Barnette currently oversees Minnesota’s largest county court operations, managing 63 state judges and supporting over 550 employees. Over the last three decades, he has worked as a judge, prosecutor, and public defender. He has held a leadership role on the Hennepin County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee — a coordinator of multiple government parties to ensure justice and safety in the region.
“Over the last three decades, Chief Judge Barnette has established himself as a leading voice in Minnesota’s public safety and criminal justice communities,” Frey said in the news release. “With his broad set of lived and professional experiences, he is uniquely situated to forge the partnerships necessary to continue building out a strong, comprehensive safety system and lead a team to keep Minneapolis safe. Judge Barnette is a rare talent, one that has deep connections in Minnesota, and I’m grateful he has agreed to serve as the next member of our administration’s cabinet.”
As chief judge for Minnesota’s 4th Judicial District Court, Barnette recently oversaw the transition from in-person to remote trial work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor’s office said.
“I know public safety is a top priority for Minneapolis and the residents who live here,” Barnette said in the news release. “I am dedicated to implementing effective strategies that address crime prevention, community policing, and the overall safety and well-being of Minneapolis residents and visitors. I am grateful for this opportunity and eager to work collaboratively with local, county, and state leaders to develop innovative solutions that promote safety and foster positive relationships between law enforcement, the city, and the community.”
For more than a decade, Barnette has mentored aspiring law professionals at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and he’s worked as an adjunct professor at the university for the past five years. Barnette received his B.A. from The George Washington University in Washington D.C., and his law degree from the University of Minnesota.
Lee Sheehy has served as Interim Community Safety Commissioner since early September following the retirement of Dr. Cedric Alexander, the city’s first commissioner.
The mayor’s nomination will be transmitted to the full City Council for consideration at its Sept. 21 meeting. The Community Safety Commissioner is a four-year appointed term.