Next po­lice chief must brace for some tough chal­lenges

Pub­lic anger mounts in wake of lat­est po­lice shoot­ing

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Re­becca Boone

Peo­ple who have worked closely with the man tapped to lead Min­neapo­lis’ em­bat­tled po­lice de­part­ment say he has qual­i­ties that would suit him well in the role: He’s friendly, seems forth­right, has deep roots in the city and is African-amer­i­can, which could help im­prove the sour re­la­tion­ship be­tween the po­lice force and the city’s siz­able black com­mu­nity.

Medaria Ar­radondo’s long his­tory with the de­part­ment — he has risen from school re­source of­fi­cer and pa­trol­man to as­sis­tant chief dur­ing his 28 years on the force — has some won­der­ing whether an out­sider might be bet­ter suited to chang­ing the cul­ture of the de­part­ment, which has been ac­cused of be­ing too quick to use force.

Fac­ing pub­lic anger over an of­fi­cer’s fa­tal shoot­ing last week­end of an un­armed, white 40-year-old Aus­tralian woman who had called 911 to re­port hear­ing a pos­si­ble sex­ual as­sault in the al­ley be­hind her home, Mayor Betsy Hodges asked Po­lice Chief Ja­nee Harteau to re­sign, which she did Fri­day, and nom­i­nated Ar­radondo as Harteau’s re­place­ment. Hodges dis­missed pro­test­ers’ calls for her to re­sign, too.

“Over the next few years, the Min­neapo­lis Po­lice De­part­ment will work to con­tinue the trans­for­ma­tional change that we all know we need, and to strengthen and in­grain into our polic­ing the changes that we have al­ready made,” Hodges said in a pre­pared state­ment

Fri­day. “I Medaria am con­fi­dent Ar­radondo that As­sis­tant Chief Ar­radondo is the right per­son to lead us through it.”

Ar­radondo, nick­named “Rondo,” would need the City Coun­cil’s ap­proval be­fore he could be­come po­lice chief. He served as the de­part­ment’s pub­lic face for the bet­ter part of a week af­ter the July 15 po­lice shoot­ing of Jus­tine Da­mond, as Harteau re­turned from va­ca­tion on Thurs­day.

Linea Palmisano, a city coun­cil­woman who rep­re­sents the ward where the shoot­ing hap­pened, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Satur­day that she has known Ar­radondo for some time, re­ly­ing on him to ex­plain po­lice ini­tia­tives and work­ing with him dur­ing com­mu­nity meet­ings such as one in­tro­duc­ing “im­plicit bias train­ing” for of­fi­cers a few years ago. She said she has had many pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions with him — some­times un­der very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances, in­clud­ing Da­mond’s death — and has al­ways been im­pressed.

“But I’m not 100 per­cent sure that we don’t maybe need a leader from out­side the de­part­ment,” Palmisano said. “The city can’t do too much about prob­lems like gun con­trol, but en­forc­ing stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures like when body cam­eras are on: Is Rondo ready to make those kinds of changes? Is that go­ing to help?”

Nei­ther the So­ma­l­iamer­i­can of­fi­cer who shot Da­mond, Mo­hamed Noor, nor the of­fi­cer with him that night, Matthew Har­rity, had their body cam­eras turned on.

Oth­ers, though, say an in­sider is ex­actly what the de­part­ment needs — some­one who was brought up in the Twin Cities and can spot the dys­func­tion be­neath the ve­neer of “Min­nesota nice.”

“He’s a fifth-gen­er­a­tion Min­nesotan, and he’s ap­pre­ci­ated and well-re­spected as a po­lice of­fi­cer,” said Raeisha Wil­liams, a City Coun­cil can­di­date for the fifth ward. “He’s Africanamer­i­can, ob­vi­ously, and he knows the cli­mate, he knows the com­mu­nity, he knows the cul­ture.”

That’s vi­tally im­por­tant when polic­ing a re­gion where 40 per­cent of res­i­dents are peo­ple of color, Wil­liams said.

Ar­radondo has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with elected of­fi­cials, fre­quently meet­ing with city coun­cil mem­bers to dis­cuss po­licere­lated is­sues.

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