Minneapolis City Council votes to eliminate public information officer position with MPD
Friday, the Minneapolis City Council voted to eliminate the public information officer position from the city’s police department.
It was decided with a 9-3 vote.
With the decision, the release of information to the public will become the responsibility of the city communications department.
"We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to make transformational change with how we do public safety, this is just one step that we can be able to do in this budget right now. We’ve heard loud and clear that they don’t trust the police, that needs to change," said councilmember Jeremy Schroeder.
Councilmembers Andrea Jenkins, Lisa Goodman and Linea Palmisano voted against eliminating the position.
Minneapolis Council member Goodman calls "this hardly transformational change" by moving police public communications officer position to the city communications office."— Eric Chaloux (@EChalouxKSTP) July 24, 2020
"This is hardly transformation change, if this is the transformative change that many of you are looking for I would say there is a lot more work to do. Moving a position from the police department to communications department, is hardly transformational change," said 7th Ward City Council member, Lisa Goodman.
Prior to the city’s vote, the Society of Professional Journalists said it discourages the council’s move to eliminate the position.
Several city council members said the change is an opportunity to restore trust and accountability with the community.
A spokesperson for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey issued the following statement to KSTP following the vote:
"Mayor Frey shares the concerns of Minnesota journalists and government transparency advocates about this decision. Major city departments across the nation employ a public information officer so that they can provide timely information to the public who need it. Defying best practices and expert advice stands to limit Chief Arradondo‘s and our local government leaders’ ability to effectively communicate with Minneapolis residents."
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to MPD for comment on the city council’s actions.
Frey has until next week to approve or veto all of the city council’s budget cuts. The mayor does not have line-item authority when it comes to the omnibus budget, according to the city.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arredondo provided the following statement on the ruling:
We have been lucky to have Director John Elder help serve as the face and voice of an organization of 1,000 dedicated public servants.
Through our Public Information Office, we have had the opportunity to get to know community members and the media in great depth. This position has afforded the department an avenue for building stronger relationships and better serving the stakeholders throughout Minneapolis.
I made my position on this matter clear. Today, the City Council opted to go in a different direction.
Director Elder will remain active, accessible and dedicated to the job of PIO until September 30, 2020, when City Communications will take over these duties.