Essential for better policing: officer integrity

This MPD deputy chief believes in dialogue with the community

Deputy Chief Medaria Arradondo
Deputy Chief Medaria Arradondo

The next time you’re trying to think of something positive to say about the Minneapolis Police Department, let the name of Deputy Chief/Chief of Staff Medaria Arradondo come to mind.

Professionally and personally, Arradondo embodies the solution to a serious, prolonged problem communities of color have had with the MPD for years — selective law enforcement that disproportionately targets minorities for, among other abuses, racial profiling and excessive force. At one point several years back, troubles so worsened that Minneapolis police came to the attention of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In 2003, federal mediation was instituted. Community and MPD representatives convened at the controversial, at times tempestuous, forum. It is widely perceived that little of worth took place. This June the DOJ returned for a town hall presentation at the American Indian Center to launch a new project: a National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.

Over the years, the premise has been repeatedly advanced that hiring more cops of color is an imperative, as if those police officers would be inherently immune to bias and automatically ensure citizens would no longer be mistreated. It is, after all, a matter of an individual officer’s character, not necessarily his or her skin.

Realistically speaking, it’s naïve to think race can be completely ignored, and Arradondo certainly is African American. However, key in the equation is his demonstrated commitment to integrity.

A 26-year veteran, he came up the ranks, beginning his career as a public housing enforcement officer and school liaison officer. He readily states, “Growing up in Minneapolis, [where] I was born and raised in a tight-knit family, [I] have to give credit to my mother and father. Cliché as it may sound, [the] notion of service had always been instilled in all their children. This seemed a good fit for me as a profession.”

He has put in service as sergeant, as lieutenant, public information officer. He was appointed commander of the internal affairs unit and assumed his present position in January. Skeptics might assume it takes a toadying token to notch such a significant track record at a police department well known for poor minority-community relations.

Quite to the contrary, in 2007 he and four fellow officers sued the MPD for discrimination. The City was forced to reach a near-million-dollar settlement. As well, he’s been on the State Council on Black Minnesotans, African American Men’s Project, Police Community Relations Council, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Minnesota Criminal Justice Project, and on the board of The LINK (for Homeless Youth).

Deputy Chief Arradondo received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Metropolitan State University and holds a master’s degree in human services from Concordia University. He is a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston, Massachusetts and the famed FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Since the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, the imperilment of Black youth by gang recruitment and terrorism has drawn greater national attention as police have drawn virtual bullseyes on them. A parent himself, Arradondo reflects on the dilemma.

“The past couple years in law enforcement in general has created an urgency [whereby] police have been forced to take a deeper dive into police legitimacy. Social media, the advent of body cameras, issues of race relations — clearly all these things have brought law enforcement to the forefront.”

With increased scrutiny, one reasonably hopes to see an improvement in police behavior. He is confident that, as well, dialoging between the MPD and the community is integral. Along that line, he oversaw the 2003 Federal Mediation Agreement that trained a spotlight on the MPD.

As to what he feels the results were, he reflects, “A 30-page memorandum [came about]. Believe it or not, a lot of good things came about as a result of that. One thing communities had complained about was the [use] of K-9 officers transporting subjects they had arrested, where they’d been bitten.

“As a result, our policy changed. “Not only will our K-9 officers no longer transport subjects, but on bites of that nature there will be a review of why [it happened].

“One of the main things that happened was our CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training to better cope with cases of police having to confront the mentally ill.” As for this year’s DOJ initiative, it’s too soon to expect a visible outcome. Arradondo previously commented on it to the MSR (“Feds promote trust-building between communities of color, cops and courts,” June 26):

“The National Initiative team [and I] met with [Minneapolis] City Council members on Wednesday [June 17], and many of them were excited and appreciative to have the opportunity to work with the experts on the National Initiative working group. We were chosen because the MPD and our community leaders are progressive and ahead of the curve, and we are excited to be one of the national models in community policing.”

 

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.

One Comment on “Essential for better policing: officer integrity”

  1. Medaria is the example of what a good police officer looks like. He grew up in an area that at times could be dangerous. He knows first hand the plight of being black in America and that communication is key. Proud to know him.

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