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McManus confirmed as Minneapolis police chief
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William McManus was confirmed Friday as the new police chief in Minneapolis. He's shown here with Mayor R.T. Rybak, center, and City Council Member Dean Zimmerman, left. (MPR Photo/Art Hughes)
William McManus won approval Friday as the next Minneapolis police chief. Four weeks after Mayor R.T. Rybak announced he would nominate McManus, the city council voted 9-4 in favor of the nomination. The confirmation was closely watched because the deciding votes were not confirmed until hours before they were cast. The vote total doesn't reflect the disappointment several council members feel in not hiring one of two internal candidates for the job.

Minneapolis, Minn. — A month ago, when informed McManus didn't have the council votes to get appointed, Mayor R.T. Rybak displayed unbending resolve. He stated confidently his choice would win in the end, and embarked on an effort to ignite community support to make it happen. Rybak's job was made easier by the connection McManus is able to conjure with those he meets. Council Member Paul Zerby calls it a "hard-edged compassion."

"He has demostrated here a command presence that I think is apparant to anybody who spends 10 minutes with him," Zerby says. "And I believe that command presence will command the respect of the officers he'll be leading and working with. I hope."

Like Zerby, Council Member Don Samuels was an early McManus supporter. When the confirmation was secured, Samuels praised the promise he says McManus offers.

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Image Reluctant vote in favor

"I look forward to working with our new chief, as we move forward to a new kind of leadership of the city where races get along together and cooperate," Samuels says. "Where criminals understand they have a new enemy called 'citizen.' And where those who are willing to change will find an open embrace in the community, the leadership and even the police. "

Some others were supportive but less praising. Council Member Barb Johnson originally supported one of two internal candidates. She says McManus is clearly qualified, but her vote reflects what she says is language in the city's charter giving the mayor more discretion in hiring a police chief than other department heads.

"I think the outcome, if we reject Chief McManus, could provide some really unstable times for our community and I don't want to see that," says Johnson.

At one public meeting, Rybak named council members he wanted citizens to call and lobby for McManus. Robert Lilligren was one of those named. He was one of four council members voting no.

I recognize there was a lot of contention in this process. I thank those who supported me and look forward to working with them. And I will work twice as hard with those who chose to go the other direction.
- William McManus

"Making these decisions, you need to weigh a thousand factors. And if I made my decision based on whoever produced the most signatures, or the most calls or the most e-mails -- I would be susceptible to the tyranny of the majority, or at least the tyranny of those best organized," Lilligren says.

Lilligren and others support one of two Minneapolis Deputy Chiefs, Sharon Lubinski and Lucy Gerold, both of whom were finalists for the job. Council Member Gary Schiff, also targeted during the mayor's public appearances, did vote for McManus after it was clear there were enough votes. Schiff criticized the mayor for abandoning a committment to promote women.

"If you listen to the mayor's public relations campaign, Minneapolis is a deeply troubled city, ravaged by an out-of-control police department that needs a man from the outside to clean it up, because the job can't be trusted to the women. I think the mayor has confused this police chief search from two years ago," Schiff says.

Rybak made no apologies for working publicly on behalf of McManus.

"I came into office promising to open the doors to City Hall. And the most important decision I had to make -- I made it by opening the doors to City Hall," Rybak says. "I'm extremely proud of the fact that, when this community got to know Chief McManus, they felt just as I did. I call that reality."

Rybak also noted that he's appointed a woman to another department head position, and supported female applicants to other positions.

McManus began mending bridges immediately. He formed a transition team made up of police staff, including fellow contender Lucy Gerold. He says he'll also work to smooth any rifts with the council.

"I'm very gratified that there was a shift. And I recognize there was a lot of contention in this process," McManus says. "I thank those who supported me and look forward to working with them. And I will work twice as hard with those who chose to go the other direction."

McManus, 52, is married with two children, and his wife is pregnant with their third child. He says he hopes to wrap up the details in Dayton, Ohio where he's currently chief, and start in Minneapolis in mid-February.

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