MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - In a one-on-one interview, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he believes the city is turning the corner after the police killing of George Floyd and a summer of civic unrest.
“It’s a daunting task, undoubtedly,” said Frey. “It’s on me, and it’s also beyond me.”
It has been a difficult time for most major cities in the U.S., but the issues in Minneapolis are particularly acute and chronic.
“We are confronting a series of crisis sandwiched on top of each other,” said Frey, noting the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent economic downturn, and the reckoning following the killing of George Floyd.
Frey said his priorities are making sure the city remains safe and the recovery continues.
“I’m a believer that five, 10, 20 years down the road, when we look back at this timeframe and recognize this was the time that we did things differently, in a way that truly transformed the way we operate the city, and hopefully we can be an example for others to follow as well,” said Frey.
Asked about the City Council’s shifting positions on abolishing, defunding, or dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Department, Mayor Frey said he has been consistent.
“Those words mean a thousand different things,” he said.
Frey said he supports the city’s current efforts through the Office of Violence Prevention, including the violence interrupters of MinneapolUS, Group Violence Intervention-Project LIFE, mental health responders, and decriminalizing addiction.
“But if by defund you mean simply to get rid of all the police, no. I don’t think that’s smart. We need law enforcement in our city,” said Frey.
Asked if there is a culture of racism in the MPD, Mayor Frey said, “Culture is about people and personnel - get the right people in and the wrong people out.”
Frey said the difficulty is when police officers are fired, half return after being reinstated through mandatory arbitration.
In imagining what the Minneapolis Police Department looks like in the future, Frey said he is “not going to give a slogan or a hashtag,” but believes Chief Medaria Arradondo is the person to lead the department.
“He’s been able to construct a vision for where he wants the police department to go in the future.”
“There’s not one simple fix for any of this and that’s why it's important that we collectively don’t pretend there is one,” said Frey.