The Minneapolis City Council approved the reappointment of Police Chief Tim Dolan on Friday, but it was a relatively close vote.
Despite overseeing a significant drop in violent crime, the vote shows council members think Dolan has to a better job managing the police department.
The council voted 8-5 in favor of Dolan's reappointment to another three-year term, a much closer vote than the nearly unanimous 12-1 mandate he received from the council in 2006.
Council member Betsy Hodges voted for the chief three years ago, but said since then, Dolan hasn't managed the department well. She said the chief has been slow to respond to several council concerns especially when it comes to the department's budget.
Under Dolan, the police department has gone over budget in all but one year. In 2009 the department overspent by more than $4 million.
"So if I were just trying to pick a crime fighter today, certainly Chief Dolan would be my pick," Hodges said. "But I also have to weigh these issues, these management issues as we move forward. And it's not just because these issues are important to me. It's also because they are crucial to making sure that our full public safety picture goes well in an ongoing way."
Only one of the five 'no' votes came from a new council member. Meg Tuthill, a former business owner, said the chief has to do a better job of ensuring that officers provide better customer service. The other council members who voted against the chief's reappointment were Elizabeth Glidden, Cam Gordon, and Robert Lilligren.
Most council members complimented Dolan for his work to reduce crime. The most enthusiastic praise came from Don Samuels, who represents the Fifth Ward in north Minneapolis. He downplayed Dolan's management problems, saying people who live in safer neighborhoods don't realize how important Dolan's crime fighting success are to his constituents.
"And that is why you will find the three north-side council members singing the praises of Tim Dolan in deep appreciate for the lowest crime in 50 years," Samuels said. "The lowest homicide rate in 40 years, save one."
The two other north side council members, Barbara Johnson and Diane Hofstede, voted to reappoint Dolan and gave similar reasons for doing so. The rest of the majority voters came from Kevin Reich, Lisa Goodman, John Quincy, Gary Schiff and Sandy Colvin Roy.
Dolan said his reappointment is an affirmation that the department is going in the right direction, but he acknowledged that the relatively close vote means there's room for improvement within the department and with his performance as chief.
"When I first took this job I would have said that politics have no place for a police chief," Dolan said. "Well, there is a role for politics, and it's about how you do things versus, not so much about what you do, but how you do them.
"So the last three-and-a-half years have been very informative and I think we're in a better place than we were three and a half years ago."
Dolan also responded to criticism that he's been reluctant to discipline officers who've been the subject of sustained complaints from the Civilian Review Authority.
Dolan pledged to work closer with the authority over the next three years.