September 30, 2006

Assistant police chief retires from force

By Mara H. Gottfried, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Dennis Jensen, an assistant St. Paul police chief who was once a finalist for chief, retired from the department Friday.

Jensen hadn't intended on retiring now - he just received a master's degree in homeland security - but has faced serious health problems.

"The department's going to lose a very good leader and a senior administrator who remembers what it was like to work the street and how tough the job is," said officer Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president.

Jensen, 49, joined the St. Paul police in 1982.

He was a finalist for police chief in 2004. When John Harrington was appointed chief that year, he named Jensen, then the Eastern District senior commander, the assistant police chief for operations.

Jensen had hoped to stay on for another eight years or so and said Friday he was frustrated and saddened that his career had been cut short.

"It's been my honor to work with the people of St. Paul," he said. "I don't know many police departments that seem to have the positive relationship we have with the community."

Jensen played a central role in the department's efforts to confront racial profiling and mediate an agreement with the NAACP.

Much of Jensen's career was spent working in narcotics enforcement and special investigations.

In March, Jensen received a master's degree in homeland security, the first of its kind in the country, from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

The St. Paul Police Department won a $250,000 grant earlier this year for an outreach program with Muslim and Somali communities, which was an outgrowth of Jensen's master's thesis.

The acting assistant police chief for operations is Senior Cmdr. Matt Bostrom.

Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262 or mgottfried@pioneerpress.com.