Arradondo won't seek a new term as Minneapolis police chief

police chief speaks at podium with mayor behind him
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announces his retirement plans at a press conference Monday. He will leave the department in January, over a year and a half after the murder of George Floyd.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated 4:15 p.m.

Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday he will not seek a new term and will retire from the department next month.

Arradondo thanked Minneapolis officers and their families for their work and support.

“They have served under the most challenging of times in our recent history and I am forever grateful for their service,” he told reporters in announcing his plan Monday.

He said that he wasn’t stepping down for another job elsewhere and had no plans to seek elected office. In January, city leaders in San Jose named Arradondo as a finalist to be police chief in that city, but he later withdrew his name.

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“I’m open to exploring what my next chapter will be, but I’ve not entertained politics at all,” he said.

Arradondo, 54, has been with the department since he joined as a patrol officer in 1989. He was appointed chief in 2017 by then-Mayor Betsy Hodges in the wake of the police killing of 911 caller Justine Ruszczyk. He became the first African-American person to lead the department.

He was appointed to his first three-year term in 2018.

Arradondo in October spoke out strongly against a ballot measure intended to remake his department, warning the changes wouldn’t fix relations between residents and the police and could do serious damage to a department already severely understaffed. He described the department then as “flatlining” and suggested that he would step down as chief if the measure passed. The proposed amendment was rejected by city voters in the November election.

Arradondo has enjoyed a level of popularity that would be the envy of any elected official. A September poll by MPR News and several other media organizations found 55 percent of voters surveyed have a favorable opinion of him. Among Black voters, his approval is 75 percent.

Civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Armstrong said she’s disappointed that Arradondo is retiring, noting that public safety has been at the center of the turmoil that Minneapolis has gone through in recent years. She added that the next chief should be someone who shares his character traits.

“He is one of the few chiefs that I have ever engaged with who actually listens to people and is not defensive when you are bringing forward recommendations,” Levy-Armstrong said of the police chief.

Levy-Armstrong, who opposed the public safety ballot question, said discussing police reform with Arradondo was a positive experience even though much work remains to be done.

Nekima Levy Armstrong on MPD Chief Arradondo not seeking a new term

Filmmaker and activist D.A. Bullock, who supported the measure and is a longtime critic of the Police Department, said Arradondo’s retirement fits a pattern of leadership changes at times of crisis — a way of passing the buck. Bullock said Arradondo was not able to shift the department’s culture.

Mayor Jacob Frey said he expected to announce an interim chief in the coming days along with plans for a national search. The interim chief will take over once Arradondo leaves in mid-January.

Watch Monday’s press conference of Arradondo’s retirement announcement, via KARE 11: