Minneapolis got its first look at its newest police leaders, as the promotion of 20 officers became official with a public swearing-in ceremony Monday.
Amid the changes, newly appointed Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told the 200 or so guests and relatives gathered at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in south Minneapolis that the profession’s mission remains as vital as ever given the uncertain time for law enforcement.
“I feel very confident that when it’s written, the Minneapolis Police Department will come out on the right side of history,” Arradondo said, repeating a theme that he has expressed since taking over the department. Several of the changes were announced months ago, but the employees were formally sworn in on Monday.
It was Arradondo’s first batch of promotions since taking over for his former boss, Janeé Harteau, as the new chief continued shaping the department’s upper echelon. Of the 20 promoted, six are minorities and two are women. One new sergeant, Renee Lewis, is a black woman.
A dearth of women still remains in senior command ranks, with the departures of Harteau and former assistant chief Kris Arneson, who retired earlier this year. Arradondo said after the ceremony that he is working with city and department officials to address the disparity, among other reforms.
The new supervisors represent a variety of life experiences, from a veteran crisis negotiator to a newly minted sergeant who runs a popular restaurant in her free time. One lieutenant, Dennis Hamilton, was a classmate of Arradondo’s at the police academy. Another, Johnny Mercil, was a member of the department’s mounted patrol unit and in-service training program, in between stints in patrol, and with the robbery, juvenile and weapons units.
“It might be easier to talk about where he hasn’t been,” Arradondo quipped.
Aaron Biard, a lieutenant in charge of the Fourth Precinct’s daytime shift, is now the precinct inspector, taking the old job of Mike Kjos, who as assistant chief now runs the day-to-day operations of the department. New commander Todd Sauvageau used to work in the department’s training unit.
Every announcement was greeted with resounding applause.
Mayor Betsy Hodges thanked the new supervisors and their families for their sacrifices, adding that “there’s no time in this country when there’s been more honor” to be a police officer.
Hamilton, Mercil and Richard Sheldon were promoted to lieutenant. And the following officers were promoted to sergeant: Tyrone Barze, Kenneth Feucht, Griffin Hillbo, Chad Joseph, Adam Lewis, Renee Lewis, Christine Patino, George Peltz, Joshua Rick, Bryce Robinson and Jarrod Silva.
The latter group has an active role in re-imaging street policing, Arradondo said.
“Because of the magnitude of their leadership in the Minneapolis Police Department, sergeant is the single most important position as it relates to the direct influence on our sworn women and men,” he said.
Arthur “Art” Knight, Erick Fors and Henry Halvorson are now deputy chiefs.
As Arradondo’s chief of staff, Knight will oversee the department’s community relations efforts. Fors will be in charge of the investigative bureau.
Halvorson will run the professional standards unit. After the ceremony, the new deputy chief — the first American Indian man to hold that rank — said the department was moving away from the insular nature of police work.
“We need to start opening our ears a lot more and listening to more people outside, and just getting different perspectives and ideas on some of these issues,” he said. “We just need to be a lot more open-minded.”