By Harry Colbert, Jr., Managing Editor
No longer able to withstand the public’s growing distrust in the Minneapolis Police Department, Janeé Harteau resigned as chief July 21.
Harteau’s successor was quickly named by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges as
. Arradondo, a 28-year veteran of the force and a native of Minneapolis, is the city’s first African-American police chief.
The appointment of Arradondo to chief is viewed as a positive move in efforts to restore confidence in the department. The longtime veteran was considered a peacemaker during the protests following the police shooting of Jamar Clark in November of 2015.
Already there have been changes announced under the new chief. In affect are changes to the body camera program, which now require officers to begin recording when they are dispatched to any call for service, or take part in self-initiated activity. Officers in the Damond case were heavily criticized for not turning on their cameras during the incident.
“Through our in-process, internal review, we found many officers activate their cameras quite often, and appropriately. We also know some officers are not using them as much as we would like them to,” said Arradondo in a statement sent to media. “The new policy sets clear direction.”
Arradondo began his career in 1989 as a patrol officer in the 4th Precinct, rising through the ranks to work in Internal Affairs before heading the 1st Precinct as an inspector in downtown Minneapolis.
In 2007 Arradondo – along with four other officers – was part of a lawsuit against the department claiming systemic racial discrimination and a hostile working environment. The group put forth the claim that Black officers were offered less overtime and fewer training opportunities and thus, received fewer appointments than white officers. The city settled, paying the officers a total of $740,000.
While the immediate fallout follows the July 15 police killing of Justine Damond, killed after she called police to report a possible sexual assault, the feelings of community distrust are deeply rooted. Though many have openly speculated as to police misconduct in the killing of 22-year-old Terrence Franklin in 2013, it was the killing of unarmed 24-year-old Clark that brought tensions to a fever pitch. Clark was killed just a block away from the department’s 4th Precinct by officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. The 61-second encounter led to 18 straight days of protest outside of the 4th Precinct and additional protests throughout the city, including a protest that for a time shut down traffic on Interstate 94. Furthering the rift, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to prosecute the two officers, sparking another wave of protests. Ringgenberg and Schwarze remain on the force – Ringgenberg in the department’s 2nd Precinct and Schwarze in its 5th.
Days prior to the killing of Damond by Officer Mohamed Noor, the community decried the shooting by another Minneapolis Police Officer of two dogs inside a yard. That officer was at the residence because of an accidental alarm. Harteau swiftly issued a statement in the matter saying the incident, which was captured on camera, was “difficult to watch.” That statement drew heat when many remembered the former chief only issued a statement in the Clark killing nearly a year after the shooting, and in full support of Ringgenberg and Schwarze.
Insight News has contacted department in efforts to conduct an exclusive interview with the new chief.