Tony Bouza, former MPD police chief, dies at age of 94

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Tony Bouza has died. He was 94-years-old.

Bouza was Chief of Police in Minneapolis from 1980 to 1989.  He started his career in New York, serving as a NYPD officer for several decades before being recruited to come to Minneapolis by then-mayor Don Fraser.

Bouza’s friend Chuck Wexler remembered the former chief as an iconoclast who put Minneapolis on the map with innovative policing policies.

"Minneapolis would turn out to be a place where he really earned quite a reputation," said Wexler who serves as the Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum. "Some things he got wrong and some things he got right but he cared about policing."

Wexler pointed to the Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment as one of Bouza’s greatest accomplishments. It was the first test of its kind and it found that arrest was the most effective way to reduce recidivism in domestic violence cases.

"Because of Minneapolis, departments around the country changed their policies on domestic violence," said Wexler.

Bouza went on to write several books and spoke out about the issue of racism in policing. But longtime civil rights activist Spike Moss says Bouza didn’t do enough to discipline officers involved in alleged cases of police brutality when he had the chance.

"He knew how to do it, how to hide it, how to deny it, how to ignore it and how to allow it. To protect his officers from being prosecuted in anyway," said Moss.

Bouza was known for being outspoken and often got in trouble for things he said. 

In a statement, current Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said: 

"We are saddened to learn of former MPD Chief Tony Bouza’s passing this morning. For 9 years, Chief Bouza ably led this department with a focus on improving its efficiency and the quality and character of its ranks. I felt a special kinship with him as he too was an outsider brought here from the New York City area to reform the department. I had the honor of spending time with him after I became Chief, and I’ll remember him as being full of life – much as I’m sure he was when he walked these halls and sat behind the very desk I’m writing from now. I offer my deepest condolences—along with those of the entirety of the MPD—to Erica, his sons, and their families." 

Bouza remained in the Twin Cities until his death at the age of 94.