Concerns, Support Echoed For Mayor's Pick For Police Chief

July 22, 2017 10:13 PM

A Minneapolis city councilwoman says she's had positive dealings with the mayor's pick to take over the police department, but she wonders whether it might be better to bring in an outsider.

Other council members, though, have expressed confidence in Assistant Police Chief Medaria "Rondo" Arradondo, saying the 27-year veteran of MPD is a perfect fit.

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Linea Palmisano, who represents the ward where a police officer shot an unarmed Australian woman who had called 911 last weekend.

"I've gotten to know Rondo over the three-plus years and he is fantastic," Palmisano said in an interview with KSTP.

She says she's relied on him to explain police initiatives and has always been impressed.

RELATED: Minneapolis Mayor Shut Down by Protesters Returns to Speak to the Media

But the councilwoman says she thinks it might be too difficult for someone from within the department to make the cultural changes needed to curtail police violence.

"One of the big questions on my mind is can Rondo make the kinds of serious changes in policing, given that he's come from the inside and he's been a part of our policy department for so long," Palmisano said. "Maybe we do need to consider someone from the outside."

But other leaders, including Ward 1 City Councilor Kevin Reich, say Arradondo is held "in high regard," and should garner enough support from the city council to become the chief.

"He's never left that community policing grounding," Reich said over the phone Saturday. "The way he handled the current situation was grounded. Given what we have to do now, I couldn't think of a better person."

According to the city's charter, the mayor has the power to appoint department heads, including police chief, but the city council must ratify the nomination.

The rules state after a nomination is made by a mayor, the Executive Committee considers it, acting either to approve or deny. The mayor chairs the Executive Committee, according to city charter.

If approved by the Executive Committee the nomination is discussed during a public hearing. After public input and a recommendation to accept, the decision is passed to the full city council for final approval.

Mayor Betsy Hodges on Friday nominated Arradondo to take over as police chief from Janee Harteau, who resigned at Hodges request amid the investigation into the July 15 shooting of Justine Damond.

Damond, a 40-year-old spiritual healer from Australia who lived in Minneapolis, had called 911 to report hearing a possible sexual assault happening in the alley behind her home. Authorities say Officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot her as she approached his squad car.

Harteau worked her way up from the bottom of the department to become the city's first female, first openly gay and first Native American police chief.

RELATED: Harteau Background: Contract and Recent Controversy

She said Friday that she was honored to serve as chief, but that she must "put the communities we serve first" despite the department's accomplishments under her leadership.

Harteau's resignation Friday came at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she lost confidence in the chief.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kirsten Swanson

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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