Dolan is Rybak's choice for police chief

  • Article by: David Chanen and Terry Collins
  • Star Tribune
  • September 11, 2006 - 11:56 PM

Praising interim Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan's community relations skills and his ability to put a "laser-sharp focus" on escalating youth violence, Mayor R.T. Rybak on Monday named Dolan as his choice to lead the department permanently.

"This is the most significant decision I will have to make, but also one of the easiest," said Rybak, who also considered two other candidates. "It matters that he knows every corner of this department. He knows when to reform and when to keep things the same way."

Few were surprised with the choice. If approved by the City Council, Dolan will become the first chief promoted from within department ranks in the past 12 years.

Dolan, 51, has long been considered the frontrunner for the job and has run the department since Bill McManus left in April to become police chief in San Antonio.

Rybak will need at least seven council votes to confirm Dolan's nomination. So far, an informal poll showed he has at least five supporters on the council.

Another five members are undecided on issues ranging from community relations to being strong and direct with a powerful police union. Two council members, Ralph Remington and Scott Benson, said they would not vote for Dolan.

Remington called the selection process for chief "secretive and perfunctory."The process is flawed; therefore the selection is flawed," he said, adding that the city missed a chance to nominate a black. He said that such a candidate could make an impact in a community wracked by violence. Forty-four people have been killed in Minneapolis this year.

Benson said he wants a chief with "more transparency, more honesty, and a willingness to follow adopted policy."

Council Members Don Samuels (a member of the police chief selection committee), Barbara Johnson and Diane Hofstede, Paul Ostrow and Lisa Goodman were among those in attendance Monday in support of Dolan.

Before the council vote, Dolan needs approvals from the city's Executive Committee on Sept. 27 and then the council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, which also plans a public hearing.

Dolan was selected over University of Minnesota Police Chief Greg Hestness and Seattle Assistant Chief Nicholas Metz, who graduated from Washburn High School in Minneapolis before eventually moving northwest. The city spent $30,000 to hire a recruitment agency.

At Monday's news conference, Dolan talked about his nervousness before meeting Friday with the mayor's chief selection advisory committee. He went to the house where he grew up in the North Side Hawthorne neighborhood and sat on the steps to reflect on potentially becoming chief.

"You try to do the best at your job," he said. "The next job calls you."

Dolan stressed that violent and juvenile crime will continue to be priorities. He said that he knows and loves the city, and that he has "friends and relatives ... here, counting on me to make a difference."

He declined to provide details about his long-term strategy to fight violent crime. However, one highlight of his interim police chief stint was reestablishing the juvenile crime unit, a centralized resource for investigators. He's also considered starting a pro-active truancy program with Minneapolis schools.

Rybak's announcement took place at the department's Second Precinct in northeast Minneapolis, where Dolan started as an officer in 1983. He spent several years as inspector of the Fourth Precinct on the North Side and became the department's first assistant chief under McManus.

Dolan lives in Edina. Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis police federation, said the city has no residency requirements for officers and added that Dolan's moving into the city wouldn't change anything.

Dolan has a reputation of working well with the community, though his relations have sometimes been strained with the Police Community Relations Council.

Clyde Bellecourt, co-chairman of the Community Relations Council, said he's developing a good partnership with Dolan, but said the council needs assurance that Dolan is committed to the five-year mediation agreement to improve the department.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C., said he has known Dolan for 10 years. "His character is the same in public and private," he said. "If Tim Dolan wasn't selected for Minneapolis, I would have recruited him for another city." • 612-673-4465 • 612-673-1790

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