Former Tommie, police chief Harrington eyeing New Orleans job

St. Thomas alumnus and former St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington is considering coming out of retirement to become police chief of a New Orleans task force, the Star Tribune reports.

Harrington earned a master’s degree in police leadership, administration and education from St. Thomas in 1986. He then went on to become St. Paul’s police chief in addition to being senior commander of the city’s Western District.

According to the Star Tribune, New Orleans Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu held a public meeting Thursday night to select a chief for the new task force. Although no formal hiring process has begun, Harrington is being considered as a top candidate for the position.

“I’m open to all sorts of possibilities,” Harrington told the Star Tribune. “I like a good challenge.”

Challenges will be numerous for Harrington in a city that has one of the nation’s highest murder rates. New Orleans reported 174 murders in 2009 while St. Paul reported 12 murders in 2009.

In addition, the New Orleans police department has been cast in a less than favorable light, according to U.S. News and World Report. The department’s reputation has been marred by police officers “busted for plotting bank robbery, sent to death row for murder and caught pocketing bribes.”

Harrington said his technological background and community work in St. Paul will easily transfer over to a New Orleans task force position. Harrington has already visited New Orleans to encourage community policing, a program that promotes community interaction and support to reduce the crime rate in the city.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at