New leadership at Minneapolis Police Dept. 4th Precinct following Christmas tree controversy

There will be new leadership at the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct amid an internal investigation into racially insensitive decorations on a Christmas tree.

Inspector Aaron Biard became the 4th Precinct Inspector in 2017, but according to a statement released Monday from Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Assistant Chief Michael Kjos will now be taking over the precinct for the immediate future.

"After very thoughtful review and consideration I have made the decision that effective immediately Assistant Chief Kjos will be responsible for the day to day operations of the 4th Precinct," said Chief Arradondo in a statement. "Assistant Chief Kjos will help serve in this capacity until a decision is made on the next Inspector of the 4th Precinct."

“I support Chief Arradondo’s decision, and it reflects his resolve to make meaningful change,” said Mayor Jacob Frey in a statement.  

Two Minneapolis police officers are on administrative leave while the department completes an internal investigation on a racist Christmas display. Last Friday, a tree in the Fourth Precinct was decorated with items many believe are associated with racist stereotypes such as Newport cigarettes, police tape, beer cans and a fast food paper cup. 

Mayor Frey had immediately called for the officers responsible to be fired.

Monday, Minneapolis Police Department looked to move forward as officers looked to highlight their positive work at an previously scheduled award ceremony on Monday.

At the event, Fox 9 requested to speak with Chief Arradondo to ask about possible damage done in the community due to the decorations on the tree. The Chief would not comment on the internal investigation, but did acknowledge a societal “crisis in civility and a turmoil of trust” while presenting awards at City Hall.

“It’s important that each and every day we do our best to go out there and prove the naysayers wrong,” said Chief Arradondo. “And I mean that collectively as a community. And I am hopeful and inspired that moments like these give me that. I could not be prouder as a Chief to see the direction we are headed in together as a city.” Minneapolis City Councilman and the vice chair of the Public Safety Committee Steve Fletcher told Fox 9 he wants the officers responsible held accountable.

“The thing about police is we give them so much responsibility,” said Fletcher. “We trust our officers to make judgments about safety and we empower them to take away our rights. We have to hold them to a much higher standard.”