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Arradondo clears hurdle in Mpls. police chief nomination process

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Arradondo and Hodges
Acting Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo listens to reporters' questions, with Mayor Betsy Hodges in the background, during a news conference Monday.
Maria Cardona | MPR News

The acting chief of the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday took a step towards having the word "acting" removed from his title.  

A City Council committee unanimously accepted the nomination of Medaria Arradondo to replace former chief Janeé Harteau who was asked to resign last month.

During the meeting, Mayor Betsy Hodges and the four council members who comprise the executive committee announced their support for Arradondo. 

"I just have always been impressed by his character, by his openness and by his approach to the work of public safety," said council vice president Elizabeth Glidden.

Council president Barb Johnson said one reason she supports Arradondo for chief is that he has been willing to take on difficult tasks, such as connecting with people from communities which have had rocky relations with the department. 

"I have every confidence in you," Johnson said to Arradondo, who was sitting in the council chambers.

Following the meeting, Arradondo said he was humbled by the compliments. One of his main tasks will be to soothe police community tensions and rebuild public trust in the department which has been shaken in the wake of the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, a 911 caller killed by a Minneapolis police officer last month.

Arradondo said it only recently dawned on him that he is poised to become the first black police chief in the city's history.

"I do know there's been many African Americans within the city who've paved the way so that individuals like myself could have the opportunity someday to be in these leadership positions," Arradondo said. "But I also know that I have 400,000 bosses that I have to be accountable for. 

"And so that will always be what's driving me — to make sure we're doing the right things for the right reasons."

Dave Bicking of Communities United Against Police Brutality said he likes and respects Arradondo, but he wants the process to slow down so more people can consider his qualifications.

"I definitely support a choice of him as acting chief. I think it's a natural choice. And I think an improvement," said Bicking.  "But, again, time will tell more. He has not been police chief. And that's a very different role." 

Bicking said the next chief has to be "somebody who can gain the confidence of the officers. But do that by knowing they will receive fair treatment, but there will be real accountability."

A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9. The full council is expected to vote Aug. 18. 

If the full council approves his appointment, Arradondo will serve the remainder of Harteau's term, which expires in January 2019.