Minneapolis' new civil rights director named

  • Article by: TERRY COLLINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 25, 2007 - 8:54 PM

The City Council unanimously confirmed Michael Jordan to lead the department. Interim director Michael Browne also was praised.

Former state public safety commissioner Michael Jordan was unanimously confirmed Friday as Minneapolis' new civil rights director.

Jordan will begin his new job on June 4. He will replace interim director Michael Browne, who served for 13 months. Browne took over last year for Jayne Khalifa, who was named deputy city coordinator.

Jordan, 57, is currently a staff member at the University of St. Thomas, where he earned his law degree last year.

After the City Council vote Friday, Jordan said he is "excited about the new challenge and opportunity."

The council also praised Browne for his work as he oversaw a revised city Civilian Review Authority process and a sharp reduction in the department's backlog of complaints.

Browne "showed tremendous courage in stepping in" to a department under constant pressure, Council Member Ralph Remington said.

Council Members Robert Lilligren and Don Samuels also commended Browne, who was given an outstanding service award by the city's Civil Rights Commission earlier this week.

Samuels welcomed Jordan, saying, "You have some significant shoes to fill and I'm confident that you will."

Last month, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak nominated Jordan for the civil rights job, saying he would bring a "high level of both professionalism and passion to the department."

Jordan served as state public safety commissioner under Gov. Arne Carlson. But Carlson fired Jordan in 1996 for "insubordination" when he was about four years into the post. Jordan also served as a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department under then-chief and longtime friend William Finney.

In addition to his law degree, Jordan has a master's degree in management from Stanford University and a bachelor's from the University of Minnesota.

Also approved Friday:

• A 22-member task force to analyze how neighborhood and cultural organizations function as part of the city's Community Engagement process. Lilligren will co-chair the group that will meet through July and give a report to the council in August.

• Funding for a $1.1 million surveillance camera system for the North Side. Fifty cameras will go up in June in an area bordered by W. Broadway and Lowry, Lyndale and Penn Avenues N. Police and volunteers will monitor the cameras at Fourth Precinct headquarters.

Although violent crime in Minneapolis is down about 16 percent compared with this time last year, a majority of the city's homicides this year have occurred on the North Side.

The cameras are expected to work in sync with the city's other crime-fighting technology tool, ShotSpotter, which can pinpoint gunshots so officers can respond more quickly. ShotSpotter was introduced on the North Side in March.

Both crime-fighting tech tools were installed in south Minneapolis within the past year and have been widely praised for helping reduce crime there.

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