Is the MPD Chief’s Job safe?

Disturbing and contradictory City Hall Rumors

There is uneasy discomfort among observers of the political pressure and mixed signals surrounding the leadership of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) in general. And, in particular, whether Chief Medaria Arradondo will be appointed to the permanent rank of Chief of the MPD, beginning in January 2019.

In my last column, we noted a cloud casting a shadow over the fairness and liberalism on which Minneapolis prides itself. Past consideration before of a Black MPD chief has resulted in no such appointments, as even liberals felt uncomfortable with a Black chief in the bastions of liberal elites. As the first African American interim MPD Chief, Arradondo reminds us of this old elephant in the decision room of Minneapolis City Hall.

Recent editorials in the Star Tribune called for an examination of MPD’s role in the use of certain drugs in apprehending suspects over the last couple of years, along with other issues. This, despite the fact that these controversies are over policies and actions of Arradondo’s MPD predecessors, including Arradondo’s comments about his predecessor’s policy regarding use of drugs to subdue persons under arrest.

Note also, the small group of MPD Somali officers who, after Mohammed Noor was charged and subsequently fired, are feeling betrayed by both the chief and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, regarding what they felt should have been a stronger show of support for Noor.

The recent sting operation downtown that resulted in 48 arrests, of which 47 were African American, has also been troubling, and yet addressed by only a few City Council members.

Some know that it is because of the strong leadership of former council president Barb Johnson, often referred to as “the adult in the room,” that the council did not split in its support of Arradondo. As I wrote a few months ago, testifying on his behalf, I hope he would be given every chance to put in place his policies and his leadership team.

Then, there are the rumors about police officers at the first precinct actually confronting the mayor with what they perceived as Arradondo’s weak support for the rank and file. Several weeks ago, rumors emerged that Federation President Bob Kroll confronted the chief about what the rank and file saw as a less than aggressive response, as insisted upon by the mayor. There may even have been discussions between the mayor’s office and Arradondo that his reappointment as chief may not be guaranteed.

There is also a bad feeling from many quarters of the African American community who are not hearing about support from Mayor Frey for the chief’s reappointment in January 2019. Laying blame at the feet of Arradondo distracts from what should be laid at the feet of the City of Minneapolis, itself, prior to the last election, masking the many issues Arradondo and the current council inherited.

Arradondo is a decisive decision-maker who speaks softly and has a deep knowledge and understating of how to build and maintain a department that will serve the interests and expectations of a very broad community, as both the mayor and Star Tribune have commented on. He has also received high marks regarding how well he handled the recent officer involved shooting of Thurman Blevins, Jr. on Saturday, June 23, 2019, both at the scene and afterwards.

Confusion is created by recent Star Tribune editorials raising questions of issues that we’re under the leadership of Arradondo predecessors. Kind statements reported about how in agreement the chief and the mayor are should end the confusion.

In closing, I hope there will be rational thinking regarding the future of Chief Arradondo.

Stay tuned.