Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and police union president John Delmonico say they’ve had a productive conversation and are ready to move past tensions revealed in the “pointergate” controversy in November.
The two met last week, nearly a month after KSTP-TV aired a news story that suggested the mayor had flashed a gang sign while posing for a photo with election canvasser Navell Gordon. Delmonico was critical of Hodges, asking in an on-camera interview, “Is she going to support gangs in the city or cops?”
The mayor later fired back in a blog post, writing that it seemed Delmonico was suggesting that she stop pointing, avoid people with criminal histories she’s not aware of, avoid young black men or “stop working to raise the standards of police culture and accountability.”
Before the news story aired, Hodges had been critical of the behavior of some Minneapolis police officers, saying that some officers had abused their power.
Now Hodges and Delmonico said they are working on shared goals. While some of their meeting focused on the disagreements that surfaced after the KSTP story, both said it wasn’t the central point of the discussion.
“We had a good conversation,” Hodges said. “It was very productive, and we focused mostly on moving forward together and wanting to work on the best MPD possible.”
The two talked about the department’s recently rolled-out plan to outfit officers with body cameras. Currently, 36 officers in the city’s first, fourth and fifth precincts are participating in a trial run of the equipment.
The pilot program will run for six to nine months, and then officials will decide on a wider implementation. Hodges’ budget proposal calls for more than $1 million for the program.
Hodges and Delmonico also talked about creating an “early intervention” system that would help the department spot problems with officers’ behavior or actions and address those problems more quickly. Delmonico said that program is still in the initial stages of development.
Both said they expect to have more meetings in the future.
“From my side of it, we’re in a better spot,” Delmonico said. “I think it’s good for both of us to continue dialogue whenever we can, about many things.”
Hodges said she also intends to reach out to officers about her plans for the department.
“The goal is for officers to know how valuable I think they are and what great work I think they do, day in and day out,” she said.