ST. PAUL — St. Paul’s police chief fired five officers Thursday after an investigation found they did not intervene when an individual assaulted others.
Police officers are expected to intervene when a violent act occurs in their presence, to protect the vulnerable and tell the truth, Police Chief Todd Axtell said June 13.
“When officers fail to live up to these standards, it affects everyone who wears the badge and that’s why I’ve taken this action,” Axtell said as he announced the terminations at an afternoon press conference. “This community deserves to know that its St. Paul police officers will always do the right thing and will always tell the truth.”
Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement that he supports Axtell’s leadership and the work of the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission “to enforce strong ethical standards in our police department.”
“While the vast majority of our officers meet and exceed these standards every day, the trust we place in them demands accountability for actions that fall below our high expectations,” Carter said.
In his 30 years as a St. Paul police officer, Axtell did not recall another time when multiple officers were fired in the same incident. He described it as “a huge withdrawal from our bank of trust.”
“My ongoing pledge to you, our community, is to move forward from this ugly day in our department’s history and once again, get back to making deposits into a fully funded bank of trust,” Axtell said.
The officers whom Axtell fired responded to an incident and “while they were there, an individual assaulted other and the officers did not intervene,” Axtell said.
The police department conducted an internal affairs investigation and Axtell said he “learned of a violation of trust, deceit and significant policy violations.”
He said state law currently limits him from providing additional details about what happened or from naming the officers.
The internal affairs investigation remains open because the officers can appeal Axtell’s decision.