When William McManus came to town from Washington, D.C. to head up the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), he determined quickly that there were good officers in this department who could make a positive difference.
For instance, consider the names heading this column: Stanek, Keefe, Delmonico, Arneson — three males, one female, all White. These four officers, despite the attempts of the Minneapolis’ mayor and his chief of police successor to McManus, Tim Dolan, to sabotage them, made every effort to make a difference in race relations and community policing.
William McManus took the job as chief here because he believed what he was told by the city council and Mayor R.T. Rybak, that community policing, acceptance of diversity, and better race relations were the order of the day. And so, McManus set out to put in place a team that would make the effort to make a difference, but he quickly found out that the acceptance of diversity was a sham.
All four of these officers are visionaries. But everyone quickly realized that there was little support for William McManus moving them into positions of significant responsibility and leadership.
The individual the mayor positioned to watch Chief McManus was the then-assistant chief, Tim Dolan. Dolan, with the mayor’s blessing, undermined and sabotaged the vision.
There was resentment and hostility toward Captain Rich Stanek, a man who talked about and attempted to bring the Criminal Investigative Division into the 21st century. He is now the sheriff of Hennepin County.
There was hatred and resentment toward Lt. Michael Keefe, a man who did not believe in the old police politics of deviousness, misrepresentation and racism. The Dolan administration demoted him to sergeant.
There was fear and resentment of big John Delmonico, the president of the Police Federation, a man who sincerely believed that there was a place for positive relationships between communities of color and the federation that he still heads.
And there was definitely hostility and gender bias against Inspector Chris Arneson, a woman who believes that this is a golden opportunity to bring together all shades and shapes of diverse interests and communities in order to treat every citizen of our city with dignity and respect.
I had the pleasure of working closely with three of the four individuals while serving on the Police Community Relations Council. I know well the efforts made to undermine Lt. John Delmonico’s commitment to diversity and the plan he put together.
We sat and met and worked on that plan to bring greater diversity to this department. At every turn, the current administration (City Hall, the mayor and the current chief) did everything they could to disrupt, undermine and sabotage the efforts of the federation and its president, Delmonico.
All four of these officers are sincere, dedicated, and willing to put their careers on the line to make a difference within this department to fulfill the mission of the police: to serve and protect. This is what Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERT (Police Executive Research Forum) in Washington, D.C., recently talked about in Seattle when he talked about building police-community bridges, cultivating police-community trust, and ensuring police-community respect.
Instead, in Minneapolis, the department has obstructed and sabotaged, including obstructing and sabotaging the efforts of four White officers who attempted to make a positive difference. This takes me back to when I began this column eight years ago, reporting back then and on through to today the bogus allegations against Black police officers by White officers who pushed the line of racism, nullification and reversal.
Let’s not forget that there was a time in this county and city when officers worked to make a difference. In the words of Chuck Wexler, that is what makes the difference between success and failure in relations between the community and the police department.
We have failed the test here in Minneapolis to bring about a true and honest commitment to doing the right thing, to establish meaningful relationships, and to reach out to all of our citizens regardless of race, creed or national origin.
The one thing healthy at this hour is the pending litigation on both sides of the aisle. If allowed to go to trial, we will find who is working to nullify and undermine those committed to making a difference. Stanek, Keefe, Delmonico, and Arneson: police officers committed to working toward making a positive difference in our city, every day.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays 5-6 pm, hosts Black Focus Blog radio 3 pm Sundays, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOn TheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his archive of columns, solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.