Dolan is setting the standard for next Mpls. police chief

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 26, 2012 - 11:16 PM

Minneapolis will name a new police leader by end of the year, but who that will be isn't settled.

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Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Three Minneapolis City Council members who will prove crucial to hiring a new police chief say they hope that person follows the example of retiring Chief Tim Dolan, who earned support even from some critics thanks to the drop in crime.

"The fact that there's so much satisfaction with Dolan's performance, I would think we would look for someone who has those kind of qualities," said Don Samuels, chairman of the council's public safety committee. He said Dolan has been a good commander who built ties with the community while drawing on new policing technologies. Samuels also credited Dolan with the patience to work with "14 difficult people as virtual bosses," referring to the mayor and the City Council.

On Wednesday, Dolan announced that he would retire by the end of the year instead of seeking a third two-year term.

Betsy Hodges, among five council members who opposed Dolan's second term, said she would want someone who could "leverage the strengths of Chief Dolan."

Hodges said that despite disagreements with Dolan, she respected the job he did, particularly with regards to falling crime.

The city needs someone who can not only fight crime but also set up a well-managed department, she said. The new chief should make the department welcoming to women and minorities while taking a tough stand against misconduct, she said.

The new chief will also inherit the turmoil left behind by the collapse of the Civilian Police Review Authority, a civilian panel created 22 years ago to investigate complaints against the police. The group complained loudly in recent months that Dolan mostly ignored their disciplinary recommendations when they found evidence of police misconduct. Rather than push the department to accept the group's findings, the director of the city's civil rights department last month unveiled a plan to revamp the board so that police officers would have a larger role in the group's investigations.

The conversion of the authority into the new "Police Conduct Oversight Commission" is underway. But that process was complicated when Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this month signed a bill that stripped the authority of its ability to issue "findings of fact," a change that the authority's chairman said would significantly weaken its already hobbled mission.

The new chief will have to strike a balance between the police union, which supported the change, and the city government, which did not.

So far there's one candidate expected to apply for the job, Dolan's No. 2, Assistant Chief Janee Harteau. Reached at a conference in Washington on Wednesday she confirmed that she would apply. Harteau joined the force in 1987, has served in various roles in the department and currently runs the day-to-day operations.

Dolan often reminded people that he was a native son, raised in the Hawthorne neighborhood on the city's North Side, but the new chief could come from anywhere.

Today large cities tend to look nationally, said Gregory Hestness, chief of police at the University of Minnesota and a finalist for the Minneapolis job when Dolan was named. Unlike St. Paul, which typically hires from within its own ranks, Minneapolis has conducted nationwide searches in the past, hiring outsider chiefs Tony Bouza (1980 to 1989), Robert Olson (1994 to 2004) and William McManus (2004 to 2006).

Hestness said it's unlikely that he would apply again.

Samuels said it's likely that Mayor R.T. Rybak will create a committee to vet applicants for the job before he makes his choice. The candidate will then get voted on by the City Council's executive committee and then the public safety committee. If the candidate survives those votes, he or she would likely appear before the full council before its vote.

"I would be looking for the same or similar qualities that we found in Chief Dolan," Council Member Diane Hofstede said. The city needs someone who can lead, pay attention to the community, mind the budget and still relate to the parent of a slain child, she said. "It's a very, very difficult job," she said.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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