Minneapolis police chief outraged over proposal to replace PD, Democrats remain divided

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Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo forcefully denounced a controversial proposal that could send his entire department packing — a proposal that has split prominent Democrats in Minnesota.

In an address Tuesday, Arradondo called the charter amendment put forth “wholly unbearable.”

The amendment, which is set to appear on the ballot for Minneapolis voters in November, would replace the police department with a “Department of Public Safety.” The ballot language stipulates that the new department “could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo at a news conference in February 2021.
(Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

Minneapolis has continued to reel from the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, which sparked deadly riots. Earlier this summer, a judge sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22 ½ years in prison for murder. In the ensuing aftermath, a coalition of liberal Democrats has called for the “defunding” of police and a substantial reimagining of the role of law enforcement.

“The leadership reporting structure for a major city chief is critically important,” Arradondo, the city’s first Black police chief, said in his address. Currently, he’s been answering directly to the city’s mayor; under the amendment, the new department would be under the control of both the mayor and city council.

“It would not just be confusing — it would be a wholly unbearable position for any law enforcement leader or police chief,” Arradondo elaborated.

Progressive Democrats including Rep. Ilhan Omar and state Attorney General Keith Ellison have backed the proposal. However, fellow Democrats Gov. Tim Walz and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have opposed it.

The city of Minneapolis has made other big moves aimed at reforming police. Back in December 2020, the city council redirected nearly $8 million of the police department’s budget to address mental health concerns and drug addiction. 

Arradondo rose to the role of police chief in July 2017 after starting his career in law enforcement as a patrol officer in 1989. 

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