The events of May 25, 2020, changed the city of Minneapolis forever. As your police chief, I write to provide you with my vision for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) as we move forward, and to express my unwavering commitment to building a better future with and for you. In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, the civil unrest that followed and now a significant increase in violent crime, I want to describe how, together, we will build a new MPD. A department that serves all people, with integrity, compassion and an unrelenting commitment to justice.
Minneapolis is where I was born and raised. I grew up at E. 37th Street and Park Avenue, so south Minneapolis has a special place in my heart. This is the place of my first classroom and where my dear mother instilled in me and my nine siblings that service is love. Where she taught me to take without forgetting and give without remembering.
Using her life lessons as my core values, I was driven to public service. I was proud and honored to join the MPD in 1989. This was a special opportunity for me to give back to the city that gave me so much. From the beginning, I did not hesitate to challenge the status quo, to speak out for justice. I have embraced being comfortable with the uncomfortable. This has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of our community's concerns and acknowledge both the historical and present-day trauma that people have experienced by the MPD.
I became police chief in July 2017. I shared with every member of the MPD my vision and the values that would be our north star to guide us forward, the foundation of which is that the sanctity of life is the most precious of all our duties. We have a great deal of work to do, and I am relentlessly committed to getting it done.
The transformation of the Minneapolis Police Department will move at the speed of trust. Trust is critical for the success of any police department. Without trust, the community will not respect or cooperate with us. Without trust, we cannot build a department that makes each officer, and each member of the community, proud. Trust in the policing context is established through the administration of procedural justice where all members of the MPD act by giving others voice, being neutral along with engendering respect and justice through every single police interaction. MPD members will keep our social contract sacred and value every interaction that embodies the principles of procedural justice and community policing where success is determined by the amount of trust engendered.
With this in mind, my plan of transformation will focus on the following areas in the coming months:
• Our community. The successful transformation of the MPD will be community-informed and -led. This past summer, working with the Urban League and the NAACP, we wrote a new oath of office for sworn officers. A new oath that puts the sanctity of life, the imperative to intervene to protect civil rights and the commitment to protect and serve all citizens with integrity and respect at the forefront of our duties. This serves as a launchpad for moving forward. In 2021, leaders throughout the MPD and I will co-create the new MPD informed by engagements with neighborhood groups, citizens, pastors and community leaders of all types. All voices will be heard, and cooperative action plans created. Moreover, the Unity-Community Team will be working with me to create the most effective policies, practices and systems to support this transformation.
• Our officers. I am truly grateful for the honor to lead some of the most dedicated and caring professionals in the country. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude and thanks to our sworn and civilian members and their families for their service. Adversity impacts us all and can affect us in a variety of ways. This is true for everyone, including members of the Police Department. Their health and wellness are vitally important to me. We will better identify resources to ensure the wellness of our city's first responders.
• Public safety. Every victim of violent crime pains me. It is easy for us to take for granted when we hear numbers — with 80 people killed by homicide this year. More than 500 individuals shot and wounded by gun violence, hundreds of carjackings and robberies. These are not statistics. These are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, store clerks, students and neighbors.
We know that safety in our city is created through an ecosystem of support and everyone plays role in changing those conditions that allow violence to occur. This ecosystem's strength relies upon having enough sworn officers and staff to respond to crime and establishing deep and mutually accountable relationships with our communities. We cannot arrest our way out of the many challenges we are currently facing. However, we must hold those accountable who would harm others in our city. And we need to work diligently on evidence-based and data-driven proven alternatives to traditional policing where they are an appropriate response.
• Innovation. In the policing context, innovation is not only creating with the community something that transforms the MPD, but also creates the conditions for safe and healthy communities. It means increasing the role of social workers and mental health professionals to help us solve problems and avoid violent confrontations. As your chief, I agree with these innovations and will implement approaches the community and our department build together.
• Accountability. As chief, I will use all my authority and available resources to hold officers and supervisors accountable for misconduct. We need legislators and elected leaders to work to modernize the structure of the current arbitration process that ensures bad cops don't get their jobs back. Community members and good officers both want and deserve this.
As we move into 2021, I will focus our department's attention and actions on root-cause issues and preconditions rather than myopically focusing on high-intensity law enforcement.
The MPD will co-create initiatives with the community and professionals that will be more effective and sustainable.
I will continue to restructure and reorient the MPD so that we build trust and legitimacy with all those we serve.
The MPD will be highly responsive in all ways.
Abusive policing will not be tolerated. Policing that engenders trust and justice will be celebrated. We will hold ourselves accountable. Failure is not an option as the future hangs in the balance. We must together seize the opportunity to create a new MPD. As our men and women continue to serve our city, we all will travel this new journey with you.
Medaria Arradondo has been Minneapolis police chief since 2017.