St. Anthony Police Captain Cotroneo set to retire

Dominic Cotroneo has worked with the St. Anthony Police Department since 1982. Starting off just as the department’s reserve program began, he climbed his way from reserve to officer to lieutenant, and has served as captain since 2005. 

Now his three-decade journey in the department is coming to a close. He has announced his upcoming June retirement and will leave at the same time Chief John Ohl is set to retire.  


His path to the field 

Cotroneo, 55, a northeast Minneapolis native, grew up working in his parent’s family-owned Italian restaurant, Vincenzo’s, which was located in St. Anthony Village.

“I would do a mixture of things there,” Cotroneo said. “Whatever needed to be done — it was a true family restaurant.”

Cotroneo’s father, Vincenzo, opened the restaurant with his brother-in-law and eventual owner of New Brighton’s Giuseppe’s Italian Ristorante Joe Cecere. The two men did the cooking while their wives Mary and Maria served.

But before coming to the United States, Vincenzo had been an officer in Italy’s Carabinieri, a national military police force similar to the uniformed FBI.

Cotroneo said it was a mixture of things that led him into law enforcement. While he’d always had a natural interest in the field, he said his father’s history in law enforcement, as well as getting to know various St. Anthony police officers who frequented Vincenzo’s when he was a kid, must have played a role in encouraging him to pursue the career as well. 


Work and beyond

In addition to working in St. Anthony, he spent 23 years working part time for the Metro Transit Police Department.

“In all, it was a lot of hours, but it was good,” Cotroneo said. “It gave me a different perspective. Suburban law enforcement is different than inner-city law enforcement. Working in both allows you to interact with different people all the time. I think it made me better at my job.”

Cotroneo stopped working for the Transit Police last year and had originally planned to retire as St. Anthony’s captain at the same time, but decided to hold off a year.

“Chief Ohl and I talked about it and discussed what the best options were for a smooth transition,” Cotroneo said. “We both wanted to leave the department in a good spot, so I agreed to stay on a little longer to help with the transition in any way I could. The department has been good to me through all these years and I’ve enjoyed my work here, so it was the least I could do.”


Next up and looking back

Not yet having any solid plans for after he leaves the police force, Cotroneo said he’s “just going to take a deep breath.” 

“I’ll be staying locally; I have no plans of going anywhere,” he said. “But I’m not sure what the next move will be for me.” 

For now, he’s simply looking forward to spending more time with his family and friends. 

Cotroneo, who lives in Minneapolis with his wife, said, “My parents live locally and they’re needing a little more assistance, and I can have more time to do that.”

His job as captain has largely meant a decade of administrative and investigative work, but he said that one of the more rewarding jobs he’s performed at the department was teaching D.A.R.E. programs at Wilshire Park Elementary School and St. Anthony and St. Charles Borromeo middle schools. 

“I’ll miss the connections I’ve been able to make in the community,” he said. “Teaching at the schools is a time I look back on fondly,” he added. “I really enjoyed it, and it made my work here that much more richer.” 


Growth in the department

In three decades, Cotroneo said he’s seen the St. Anthony police force expand and change over time. 

“There’s been great growth,” he said. “The contracts with Falcon Heights and Lauderdale were important for us.”

But even more than appreciating that growth, Cotroneo said he’s appreciated those he’s been able to work with — Chief Ohl and the rest of the department. 

“We’ve had a great group of people come through here,” Cotroneo said. “We’ve never really had any real negative issues with any of the officers. We’ve been very fortunate in that respect. I think most of the people who’ve come have liked the work and the atmosphere and environment.”

He pointed out that a positive ambiance like this is not always the norm, given the stressful nature of police work. 

“But all of that [positivity] comes from feeling the support from the community and community leaders,” he noted. “That goes a long ways for us and the job we do.”

Recruited from within, Sgt. Jeff Spiess will become the next captain of the St. Anthony Police Department.


Jesse Poole can be reached at or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at

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