Arradondo: Communication key to improving police-community relations

Medaria Arradondo
Medaria Arradondo is the commander of the Minneapolis Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit.
Brandt Williams / MPR News 2013

The new top deputy for Minneapolis Chief JaneƩ Harteau said he'll concentrate on improving police relationships with the community.

Medaria Arradondo, current 1st precinct inspector, will be Harteau's first chief of staff. He spoke with All Things Considered host Tom Crann Monday.

Arradondo described the position as a proxy for the chief. He said the key aspects of his job will be strengthening relationships and communicating with civilians, elected officials and with the rank and file in the department.

"For us to advance any of our policies or measures which are really aimed at increasing public safety of our city, I think all of those are important key players," he said. "They all have to be at the same table, and they all have to hear the same messaging. They all, also, have to be listened to. That's where I see my role."

Arradondo, who joined the Minneapolis Police force in 1989, sued the department for discrimination in 2007 along with four other black police officers. They claimed they'd been passed over for promotions, lost overtime pay and were unfairly disciplined because of their race. The city settled the suit for more than $700,000.

Harteau also shook up some of the other top leadership positions in her department last week.

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In addition to the chief of staff, Harteau announced a commander of operations and administration who will oversee hiring and recruitment.

Current Deputy Chief of Patrol Eddie Frizell, who unsuccessfully ran to unseat Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, was appointed to the new commander position.

"I believe these changes will allow us to focus on important initiatives that support our mission of improving public safety, public trust and employee engagement and morale," Harteau wrote in the Facebook post.

The changes come as the police union and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges spar over policing and policy issues, and the department strives to rebuild community trust in the face of allegations of racism and use of excessive force.

Arradondo didn't comment specifically on those issues, but said the department needs to deliver the best public safety service it can.

"If there are systems or processes in place with our culture that inhibit or prohibit that, we want to work on that," he said.