Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan passed his first reappointment hurdle Wednesday when the city's Executive Committee forwarded his name to the City Council for consideration.
The panel did so on a 4-0 voice vote after Mayor R.T. Rybak and Council President Barbara Johnson resoundingly backed Dolan while two other panel members gave more mixed reviews.
Also on Wednesday, the city and critics wrangled in court over whether a judge should order that a largely unfavorable review of Dolan's performance on police accountability issues be formally presented to the council. Hennepin County District Judge Susan Burke ordered Tuesday that the city must do so or argue its case at Wednesday's hearing. During those arguments, she questioned the request, given that the review is on the city's website and was sent to city officials. Burke gave no indication when she will rule.
Rybak, who renominated Dolan in October, said during the Executive Committee meeting that "Chief Dolan has made Minneapolis a safe place to call home." He cited a reduction in serious crime, strategies to reduce youth violence and neighborhood policing plans. He said Dolan worked behind the scenes to coordinate police agencies that responded to the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in 2007.
Still, Rybak acknowledged there are "very, very widely differing views about how deeply Chief Dolan and the department are engaged in the community." Dolan didn't attend the meeting. A public hearing on his reappointment is expected to be held March 3 at 1:30 p.m. before a council committee.
Committee members Elizabeth Glidden and Robert Lilligren said they voted to forward Dolan's nomination because they think the full council deserves to make that decision. Glidden said Dolan has done good work on some issues, but she wants to measure his performance against benchmarks the council adopted when it first appointed him on a 12-1 vote in 2006. She's also concerned about how he manages the department's budget. Lilligren said he's concerned about accountability issues and the possible closing of safety centers in his area.
The court hearing came after two activists asked Burke to order that the council be notified formally of a performance review of Dolan conducted by the Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA). The review rated him unsatisfactory or in need of improvement on police accountability issues.
Burke riffled through a report that she noted had been sent to council members and the mayor. She asked, "What more is required?" Jill Clark, the activists' attorney, said the report wasn't specifically from the chair and didn't include the language of the applicable city ordinance.
Burke said, "Your client wants some information forwarded to the council that has already been provided." Clark said "specific notification" is required to maintain "the tiny little bit of power the CRA has."
The authority hears complaints of police misconduct and forwards sustained complaints to Dolan. It said he disciplined only five of 37 officers against whom the authority sustained complaints during the review period. It also said that he violated the civilian review ordinance by substituting his judgment for that of the authority on evidence in sustained complaints.
Dolan often has rejected discipline because he found insufficient evidence or thought too much time elapsed after minor incidents.