Minneapolis has a new police chief — but not one who is new to the city. Minneapolis native and veteran officer Medaria Arradondo became the top cop on Friday when the City Council approved his appointment.
He steps into the job with a remarkable amount of support and praise. A council hearing included mostly enthusiastic support of his appointment from community members, elected officials and rank-and-file officers. That’s a product of his 28 years on the force, where he’s earned a reputation as a fair, calm and compassionate presence first as an officer and later as an internal affairs and precinct commander leader.
He’ll need that support and more. With the backdrop of regular community protests about police practices, the department is rightfully under intense scrutiny over issues such as excessive force and cop-involved deaths.
Arradondo will be the city’s first African-American chief. “Rondo,” as he is fondly known, grew up on the North Side and brings an important combination of skills and sensitivities to the position. He’ll be leading a department that has had high-profile problems with community and internal relations — including numerous lawsuits and settlements for excessive use of force and discrimination.
In fact, Arradondo, like his predecessor, successfully sued the department for discrimination but stayed with MPD and rose through the ranks to change it from within.
Because of the serious trust issues between some community members and the department, the Star Tribune Editorial Board previously argued that it would have been better for Arradondo to continue as acting chief and be judged against a wider range of candidates. It’s still a possibility that as an insider, he’ll be viewed as perpetuating the status quo and be unable to change an organization he’s been a part of for nearly three decades.
That said, we wish him well as he takes on one of the most challenging positions in city government.
As Minneapolis welcomes the new chief, the service and accomplishments of his predecessor, former Chief Janeé Harteau, should be acknowledged.
Even Mayor Betsy Hodges, who pressured Harteau to resign, acknowledged that significant work was done to improve the department during her tenure. That included championing diversity, strengthening community outreach and emphasizing de-escalation training.
It’s clear that not all of those efforts produced buy-in from the entire force — and Arradondo has work to do to rebuild community trust, address the uptick of violent crime and address downtown safety — but it would be wrong to suggest Harteau didn’t work diligently to launch important reforms.
As a member of Harteau’s leadership team, Arradondo helped implement some of her initiatives. He should continue to build upon the best of them, while bringing his own brand of leadership to the department.