'Team of rivals' to help bring changes to Minneapolis Police Department

A month after an effort to replace the Minneapolis Police Department failed at the ballot box, Mayor Jacob Frey has formed a working group of dozens to help guide significant moves to reform the department instead.

And he’s taken a "team of rivals" approach.

"And although I did not vote for Mayor Frey for mayor, I’m thankful that he has thick skin," said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a longtime civil rights activist and attorney. "And that he reached out to me and other members of the community who want to see change happen."

Armstrong is co-chair of the new Public Safety and Accountability Work Group, along with the Reverend DeWayne Davis of Plymouth Congregational Church, another community member with a wary eye.

"Now, I too have been very critical of the city, I’ve been critical of the mayor," said Rev. Davis.

"We’re not going to be able to answer every question, but I think if we want to really show the world that there is a possibility that we can reform police, that we can provide public safety, that communities and police can work together, and be the type of community that lets people thrive, then we are ground zero for it."

The goal of the working group, which has several dozen members, is not just to work out ideas for major police reforms, but also how to do that while boosting public safety in light of increasing crimes, such as carjackings, shootings, and murders.

"This workgroup does, in many senses, represent a team of rivals, with a bunch of different perspectives," said Mayor Frey. "And I believe the tenor of the conversation we’re having as a city will be better for it."

The group needs to work through often conflicting views and opinions, such as if Minneapolis Public Schools should reinstate school resource officers.  Armstrong opposes that idea, but Charlie Adams, the football coach at North High fully supports it.  He used to be the school's resource officer when he was an MPD officer and says the connections with students were invaluable.

"With this working group, we can come up with solutions and hold people accountable," said Adams. "And also police reform and have better training for officers because I know that we need it."

The group begins meeting in mid-December with goals to have concrete ideas in place by mid-2022.

And it happens with the future of Chief Medaria Arradondo, who is also part of the group, up in the air.  He has not committed to another term as chief.  Frey says he’s working on retaining the chief every day.

"I am 100% committed to the Chief, would love to see him stick around for certainly as long as possible. And we know his deep-seated relations with the community will be exceedingly helpful." said Frey.