Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Friday, October 20, 2006

Police Chief Dolan

The decision on Mayor Rybak’s selection of Chief Tim Dolan has been an extremely difficult one for me.

On the one hand, I represent communities that have seen dramatic increases in crime over the past two years. When I conducted a survey of Second Ward residents over the summer, crime and safety were the number one concern of neighbors. I have heard from many, many of the residents of my Ward that they want a permanent Chief now, and they will accept Tim Dolan.

On the other hand, I am deeply committed to helping create lasting, systemic change within the Minneapolis Police Department. The Department must connect better to our communities, especially our communities of color, and our community members must know that when officers engage in misconduct, there will be accountability. I have heard from many that Dolan will be an obstacle to this necessary progress.

I held a public meeting on the Chief selection on October 9th. Not one person who attended supported the nomination of Chief Dolan, and many raised serious concerns. I was also the one Executive Committee member who was present to meet with the anti-Dolan protest on October 10th.

Through this Chief selection process, I have raised these concerns. I have been undecided on whether Tim Dolan will be a force for positive change in the Department, whether he will be able and willing to hold his officers accountable, and whether he truly believes in civilian oversight of the Police.

Though I continue to have concerns, Chief Dolan has made commitments to me and backed them up with clear actions that make me comfortable enough to vote for him:

  • Dolan has provided my office with evidence that he has dealt with the backlog of sustained CRA complaints that former Chief McManus had allowed to sit on his desk for over two years.
  • Dolan has committed to a goal of issuing discipline for 100% of complaints sustained by the Civilian Review Authority. He has committed to reporting the actual level of discipline issued on a quarterly basis to the Council.
  • Dolan has clearly established the reasonable cases in which he will not issue discipline for CRA sustained complaints: incidents in which an officer violated one ordinance but followed another and incidents in which an officer was following explicit MPD policy.
  • Dolan has committed to moving the MPD into compliance with all requirements of the Federal Mediation Agreement.
  • Dolan has committed to building a real community policing model for Minneapolis

In addition, my concerns were assuaged by the willingness of my colleagues to resoundingly endorse the Safe City Resolution, which explicitly lays out the Council’s expectations for the leadership of the Police Department. The Safe City Resolution is based on the 12-point Reform Agenda sent to Mayor Rybak by Council Members Glidden, Hodges and myself. I was also given hope by Mayor Rybak’s willingness to publicly discuss these difficult issues with us. The commitments that Chief Dolan has made to me are strengthened and codified in the Resolution, giving them real weight. Most positively, the Chief actively participated with my colleagues and me on crafting the resolution, proving to me that he is indeed committed to substantial reform in the Department.

Our expectations are now on record, and I will be holding the Chief accountable by these clear standards as long as we’re both in office.

I am committed to increasing police accountability in Minneapolis, and to reforming the Department to better serve Minneapolis residents. I believe that this goal, like the other important goals we share, cannot be accomplished by one person alone. Tim Dolan won’t make or break Minneapolis. Our focus should not be on personality, but on long term, lasting systemic change.

The reforms to the Civilian Review Authority ordinance which also passed today, along with the Safe City Resolution, are steps in the right direction. I will continue to push for more needed reforms, working with (and sometimes disagreeing with) my colleagues, the Mayor, the residents of my Ward, police accountability advocates, members of the Green Party, and Chief Dolan.

I am optimistic that by continued constructive conversation we will get it right.

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