William Finney to lead audit of Saint Paul Police Department Canine Unit

Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Police Chief Todd Axtell announced today that former Saint Paul Police Chief William Finney has been engaged to lead a comprehensive audit of the police department’s Canine Unit.

“Chief Finney is a national expert who knows both our community and our police department very well, “ said Mayor Carter. “I look forward to his assessment, and to working with Chief Axtell to ensure our canine unit and our entire department have the training, tools and resources to serve our city well.”

Finney is a law enforcement expert who worked in Saint Paul more than 33 years, including 12 as police chief. He retired in 2004 after a decorated career during which he led efforts to diversify the department, implement community-oriented policing strategies and develop an anti-racial profiling agreement with the NAACP.

Both Carter and Axtell point to Finney’s longtime commitment to public service in the City of Saint Paul and his deep knowledge of both law enforcement and the community as reasons why he is the perfect person to lead the audit.

Finney has served with the Minnesota Army National Guard, helped students pursue their dreams by establishing the William and Linda Finney African American Student Scholarship at Minnesota State University Mankato (his alma mater) and been a champion of making Saint Paul a safe city for everyone. 

Since retiring from the police department, he has remained active in civic engagement. In 2005, Finney was appointed to serve on the Saint Paul Board of Education (to which he was also elected in 1989), and in 2015 he was appointed to the Saint Paul City Council.

As a consultant with the department, Finney will engage experts to assist with a comprehensive review of the Canine Unit—from its history to policies to training to practices. Once the audit is concluded, he will make recommendations for how canines should best be deployed in the interest of public safety.

According to Axtell, nothing will be off limits in the audit.

“The Saint Paul Police Department is absolutely committed to achieving excellence in all that we do,” said Axtell. “I agree with Mayor Carter that we have found the right person to help us move forward and welcome the audit of our canine unit by a well-respected law enforcement professional with deep ties to our community.

“I’m looking forward to working with Chief Finney on this project and learning more about how we can more effectively and safely use our Canine Unit to enhance public safety.”

Finney’s contract is for six months and he will be compensated $50,000. In addition, it allocates $15,000 for travel expenses and $35,000 to hire outside canine experts.