Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Minneapolis police chief in council's good graces
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William McManus says maybe the best way to judge the performance of the police department is by measuring the satisfaction of its customers. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
Minneapolis Police Chief William McManus got a mostly positive job review from the mayor and members of the City Council on Wednesday. The chief received high marks for his visibility in the community, for diversifying the upper ranks and for other initiatives that have changed the structure of his command staff. But some councilmembers told the chief they would like to see more diversity among street officers. And they asked the chief to come up with a workable way to evaluate how well the police department does its job.

Minneapolis, Minn. — During the hour-long evaluation, councilmembers and Mayor R.T. Rybak told McManus they were especially pleased with efforts he's made to diversify the upper levels of the department. Earlier this month McManus promoted Captain Kris Arneson, a woman, to inspector. She will command the 5th Precinct. Don Harris, an African American inspector, was promoted to deputy chief. McManus has also promoted Val Wurster, an African American woman, to head the Second Precinct.

"I would agree that the management team that we have in place is exceptional and as you said, meets the needs of the community they serve and I'm very comfortable with who's in place right now," said McManus, who has also drawn praise for creating an assistant chief position. Assistant Chief Tim Dolan will serve in a post similar to that of a chief operating officer.

Councilmembers also complimented McManus on the promotion of Don Harris, because Harris will head the department's professional standards division. McManus says part of the job of that division will be quality control of officer performance and conduct.

"I guess if you wanted to call professional standards another name, it's risk management. And everything that comes into that division is translated into training or some kind of accountability measure," he said.

Mayor Rybak told McManus that he was frustrated with the slow pace of the department's efforts to diversify the patrol ranks. However, Rybak said it's hard to hire more officers of color, when the department doesn't have the money to hire any new officers.

Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee says the force can improve by promoting more minorities and creating an atmosphere where diversity is welcome.

"And that starts also with the leadership," she said. "And if the leadership does not embrace and manage diversity, then you can hire as many diverse police officers as you want, what will happen is we'll get them trained, they'll be here a couple years and then some other police force will take them and that's what we've seen."

Other councilmembers questioned how to best judge the progress the police department is making. In general, the amount of serious crime in Minneapolis has declined over the last decade. However, some parts of the city have seen increases in serious crimes.

McManus says maybe the best way to judge the performance of the police department is by measuring the satisfaction of its customers.

However, Councilmember Robert Lilligren says the chief needs to find a more accurate way to measure progress.

"This general community satisfaction is always difficult because it depends on who you're hearing from in the community, how you're gaining that infomration and I think this review would benefit from more developed performance measures and less of a feeling of how he's doing," he said.

After the performance review, McManus said he thought the councilmembers were going to be a little more critical.

"What they said is true and what they've asked me to do, I think I've done a pretty good job of doing. My concern remains -- primary concern right now remains -- the level of safety on the street," McManus said.

Just yesterday Minneapolis experienced its 27th and 28th homicides of the year. There were 19 at this time in 2004.