MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - With Police Chief Janee Harteau out, and Mayor Betsy Hodges’ nomination for Medaria Arradondo to serve as Minneapolis’ next police chief in, the man many know as “Rondo” is acting the part--at least for now.
“It’s long overdue, he’s earned this position," Lisa Clemons, a retired Minneapolis police officer said. "He came up through the ranks. We patrolled together, worked together, and he’s always had his heart in the right place for the job. He’s never been cynical about the job, never afraid to go out in the community in stressful situations and actually talk to the people.”
During a recent appearance to address the shooting death of Justine Damond--before Arradondo assumed command of the department--he seemed subdued.
“The BCA again is in charge of this investigation and again that’s the general public statement I can make at this time,” was Arradondo’s repeated response to reporters with questions about what led up to Damond’s shooting death.
“I think he’s a great guy, but I think he’s going to have a very, very difficult time changing the way police operate in this city,” Minneapolis community activist Mel Reeves said.
Friday, after Mayor Hodges called for Harteau’s resignation, she nominated Arradondo to replace her permanently. Reaction from protesters was not favorable and included shouts of “we ask that you take your staff with you!” and “Bye, bye, Betsy!”
But the mayor’s pick has 28 years of experience with the force.
Arradondo first joined the city’s 4th precinct in 1989. Referred to as “the people’s cop” Arradondo served as a school resource officer and a Northside beat officer. From there, he was the commander of the internal affairs unit, inspector of the first precinct, deputy chief and chief of staff. Rondo has only been assistant chief since April 30.
“I’m concerned that that he’s really steeped in the Minneapolis police culture,” Michelle Gross, the president of Communities United Against Police Brutality said, despite the “courtesy” call Gross says Rondo made to her personally over the weekend. "We talked for a good long time and he told me he is interested in change and though I was assured by that, at the same time I think he really could use some help in how to make some real change."
Necessary change is what Clemons, Reeves and Gross agree all stems from the same problem.
“I do think it is an institutional problem, I do” Clemons said. "But I think you have to have more people open more doors. Not that narrow door that you only let a few people in. Or the same people sitting at the table. I think Rondo has the ability to open the door wide and bring a wide range of people in. Even those who are anti-police.”
Clemons does, however, agree “change” requires a community effort that will not happen overnight--whether “Rondo” becomes more than acting chief or not.
“They’ve changed clothes quite a bit,” Reeves said. “But we still have the same body.”
On Sunday morning Harteau also shared her approval on Facebook.
“Chief Arradondo is an honorable, caring man," she wrote. "He was a great Chief of Staff, newly appointed Assistant Chief and now Chief. We have done so much together to improve public trust and police service.”
Minneapolis’ City Council will decide whether or not to act on Mayor Hodges’ nomination, but city representatives confirm that until then, Arradondo will remain the acting police chief.