Police department continues search for new Fourth Precinct leader
The station has been without an inspector since December.
By Kenzie O'Keefe Editor
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo says he hopes to install a new Fourth Precinct inspector by April.
Finding a long term leader for the Northside police station, which has seen three inspectors come and go in three years, has proven difficult. MPD officials held a forum at the Davis Center on Feb. 21, asking the community to provide input that would help the chief choose a next inspector who sticks.
Arradondo began the forum with an apology for the incident that led to his removal of the precinct’s last inspector, Aaron Biard, an over 20-year veteran of the department, back in December. A Christmas tree at the station was decorated with racist ornaments by two police officers, prompting swift denunciation by the mayor, chief, and community leaders. “I know that’s caused pain and frustration to many of you,” said Arradondo, who was born on the Northside and says he understands community to be committed to safety that is “not just the absence of crime but the presence of justice.”
Arradondo says he has interviewed every lieutenant, commander, and inspector in the department to assess their possible interest and fit with the role. The number of people who “want to do this job” is “smaller than you might imagine,” said Arradondo. He says “character” (or “the words people use to describe you when you’re not in the room”) is the most important selection factor for him.
Over 50 community members, including Northside city council members and school board directors, attended the forum, which was moderated by Vivian Jenkins Nelsen, a Northside resident and decorated academic who told the crowd she has “been leading police community dialogue for almost 25 years now.”
Small groups put together lists of qualities they would like to see in a next Fourth Precinct Inspector, a job that requires both an ability to internally manage a team of 125 sworn and civilian employees at the station and an ability to build deep trust with community members.
Northside resident Kathleen Acaso says she’s looking for an inspector who “believes in de-escalation whenever possible.”
“I would like him to be comfortable in my community,” said Lynne Crockett.
Kimberly Caprini says she wants "an inspector who realizes when their own staff needs to not work," she said.
“I don’t want someone who just protects the officers,” said Jamar Nelson, adding that he would like to see a woman of color considered for the role.
Other comments stressed a need for an inspector who is out and about in the community and influences their officers to do the same.
Assistant Chief Mike Kjos is temporarily leading the Fourth Precinct while the search for a new leader is underway. This his second temporary stint at the precinct. Kjos held the position prior to Biard's appointment, after beloved Inspector Michael Friestleben was removed from the role in 2016, prompting great community outrage. Many in attendance at the forum spoke of Friestleben’s presence in community as a model that the next inspector should follow.
Before landing on Biard, then MPD Chief Janee Harteau selected John Delmonico as Friestleben’s replacement in April of 2017, but his appointment was blocked by then Mayor Betsy Hodges, whose texts to Harteau revealed that she believed him to have done “racist stuff” during his tenure in the department. According to the Star Tribune, Delmonico later sued Hodges for defamation of character but the judge dismissed the case.