Policing vote: Minneapolis city council president says she filed ethics complaints on chief's remarks

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo (FOX 9)

A day after the Minneapolis police chief held a news conference on a ballot measure to replace the Minneapolis Police Department, the city council president says she is filing ethics complaints.

Thursday, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said she has filed ethics complaints against both Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey related to Wednesday's press conference.

A spokesperson for Bender said she was unable to share a copy of the complaint.

FOX 9 has reached out to the ethics board for confirmation that a complaint has been filed. We've also reached out to the mayor's office and a police department spokesperson for reaction.

Chief Arradondo addressed the proposed charter change ballot question that would alter public safety in the City of Minneapolis. If approved, the language requiring the Minneapolis Police Department would be removed from the charter.

Instead, the city would create a new Department of Public Safety. The new department would be under the control of both the mayor and city council. Currently, the police department is entirely under the purview of the mayor's office. The change would also remove language in the current charter that requires 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents in Minneapolis.

That wouldn't necessarily mean the department would be without armed police officers. But, it would give the city council more say in how to structure the new department.

City memo tells Minneapolis police officers what happens if Question 2 passes

But, as the city experiences a spike in crime, Chief Arrandondo said it is irresponsible to move forward with drastic change without a detailed and throughout vision for the future.

"This is too critical the time to wish and hope for that help that we need so desperately right now," Arradondo said. "And again, I was not expecting some sort of robust, detailed word for word ‘plan.’ But at this point, quite frankly, I would take a drawing on a napkin."

Lisa Bender

However, Bender says the statements by the police chief constitute a violation of city's ethics code.

"We need a full and accurate ethics investigation of a press event held on Wednesday, October 27 -- including the role of the Mayor of Minneapolis in directing or planning the event -- when the Chief appears to have used city resources, including the support of city staff, city logos and the MPD uniform, at a press event explicitly focused on taking a position on a ballot question," a statement from Bender reads.

Bender cites ethics code section 15.110 which states: "A local official, employee or candidate for elective office shall not use city facilities, property, funds, personnel, the city logo, the city seal or other city resources to engage in political activity."

In her statement, Bender also shot back at the chief's claims that no plan is in place for the future, if the ballot measure is approved. She points to a presentation by other council members outlining a potential structure for the new department.

Here's what the Minneapolis police ballot proposal will do

Bender also says the chief ignores "years of work that have gone into developing a plan for better, more effective public safety."

"Senior staff at the City, who are largely staff of color, have been working for years to analyze our existing public safety system and make detailed, serious recommendations informed by data and community engagement," writes Bender. "Chief Arradondo knows this because MPD has been fully involved the whole time."

"I cannot understand why Chief Arradondo would say that no planning has been done for a Department of Public Safety when he is fully aware that extensive work has already been done over several years, before and after the murder of George Floyd," Bender added.