Growing up in Minneapolis, Medaria Arradondo didn’t see a lot of black cops. He decided he wanted to help change that, and after joining the department in 1989 has risen through the ranks to become the department’s assistant chief and second-in-command.
While Chief Janeé Harteau remains out of public view on what a spokesperson called a “personal, pre-scheduled” trip, Arradondo — nicknamed “Rondo” — has been the face of the MPD during the aftermath of the Justine Damond shooting, whose killing by officer Mohamed Noor has made international headlines.
Arradondo has twice addressed the media since the shooting, taking questions from reporters from around the globe.
He manages the department’s day-to-day operations and oversees the police-community relations program. Those tasks are a part of his duties as assistant chief, a position he was appointed to in April after serving as Harteau’s chief of staff for 2½ years.
“Rondo ... brings incredible leadership and community-building skills to this position,” Harteau said in a statement at the time.
After graduating from Roosevelt High School and earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Metropolitan State, he served stints in patrol, internal affairs and property crimes, and has walked the beat on the city’s North Side, where his family has strong ties. One of his cousins, Jason Youngmark, 33, was shot and killed at a north Minneapolis barbecue in 2012.
Arradondo is well liked not only on the North Side but also in the mayor’s office. When Mayor Betsy Hodges clashed with Harteau in April over the appointment of a new Fourth Precinct captain, Hodges used Arradondo as an example of “a uniting person, not a polarizing figure in the community.”
In 2007, Arradondo was one of five black officers who sued former Chief Tim Dolan, alleging that he fostered a racially hostile environment. The city settled with the officers two years later for $740,000.
In a story published Tuesday by the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder, Arradondo said he recognized the importance of police having a strong bond with the community.
“You get a ton of equipment to wear, the badge and everything else,” he said. “One thing we don’t give you is the benefit of the doubt. You have to earn that with the community, through your character. If you lose that, you may never repair it, may never get that back.”