MPD’s ‘leader for change’ has confidence, asks for patience from community

MPD’s ‘leader for change’ has confidence, asking for patience from community

MPD's 'leader for change' has confidence, asking for patience from community

With big and many changes ahead for the Minneapolis Police Department, the commander in charge of implementing that change has confidence and is asking for patience.

Cmdr. Yolanda Wilks, a more than 15-year MPD veteran, has been tasked with leading the newly formed “implementation unit” — a role Chief Brian O’Hara said was not sought after by many.

“It’s something, that I would say by and large, most people were afraid to do, most people were afraid to stand up and step into the position that she’s in,” O’Hara said about Wilks following a community engagement meeting earlier this week.

When asked why she “stepped up,” Wilks says it’s because of the same reason she became a police officer.

“I believe in change,” she said.

The implementation unit was put in place following investigations into the MPD by both the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice. The two entities found the department had a pattern of discriminatory policing. Now, Wilks and her team will oversee the mandatory reform.

“I think, yes, trust has been has been broken with officers as well, but I believe that inwardly we all believe change can happen. It’s just how we go about getting that change,” Wilks told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

When set, the implementation unit will have 25 people; 13 have been brought on so far.

Wilks feels getting the department on board with these reforms is just as important as involving the community in the process and gaining their trust.

“Things don’t change overnight, and I know that something could possibly happen. It’s how [it’s] proven to be in the past, but stay with us, stick with us, and I think that we can get through this together,” Wilks said.

Part of the process includes the police department hosting several community engagement events. The next one is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Urban Ventures, where the focus will be on use of force.