5 Things To Know About Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
Arradondo became the city's first Black police chief in 2017.
June 01, 2020 at 2:39 pm
The Minneapolis Police Department has been under fire since the death of George Floyd. Video of police killing the unarmed Black man has caused global outrage and has led to widespread protests, with people demanding justice for Floyd and repercussions for all officers involved.
As protesters continue to express their outrage, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is tasked with listening to the public's demands and taking the proper action.
Here are five things to know about the man who is now in the national spotlight:
1. Arradondo is Minneapolis' first Black police chief.
According to the Star Tribune, Arradondo talked about the weight of his responsibility when he took over the job in 2017, becoming Minneapolis' first Black police chief. The Minneapolis native said he is grateful for those who made it possible for “men and women like me to serve in positions like this.”
“I take that with a great sense of responsibility and I’m just humbled that I’ve had people who came before me to uplift me,” Arradondo said at his introductory press conference where he also said he intended to "restore faith" in the community.
The 30-year law enforcement veteran said a police chief in Michigan first mentored him, telling him "people are going to kind of look at you a little bit differently.”
“He’s trying to say all of these words, but what he’s really saying is you’re an African American who is embarking upon a profession and who’s about to wear a uniform that this community has never seen before,” Arradondo said.
2. Arradondo took over after controversy hit the department.
Arradondo started as interim chief in 2017 before officially taking over that same year, according to The Journal. The 53-year-old replaced former Chief Janeé Harteau, who stepped down after an officer shot and killed a woman.
According to NBC News, Justine Damond was a white woman who called 911 to report a sexual assault incident near her home. Mohamed Noor, a Black officer, shot Damond while responding to the incident.
Mayor Betsy Hodges demonstrated faith in Arradondo when he took the job following the controversy.
"[Arradondo] will be a chief and leader who will not only ingrain changes made in the department in recent years, he will move forward with his own inspiring vision for transformation," the former mayor said.
3. Diversity has been an issue in the department.
While the Minneapolis Police Department has been criticized for its lack of diversity, the community hoped that things would start to change under the leadership of Arradondo. Still, there was skepticism, the Star Tribune reported.
“The problem we have is systemic, so changing the people at the top, no doubt it can make some difference, but not the difference we’re looking for,” Mel Reeves, a Black community leader, told the Star Tribune in 2017. “At the end of the day, are folks not going to be harassed by the police? Are people still not going to be picked up for petty crimes that they wouldn’t be picked up for in Edina? Maybe, maybe not.”
Ron Edwards, a civil rights activist, said Arradondo took over in an urgent time when policing has become a concern.
“Race has become once again a paramount issue,” Edwards said when the police chief took over. “Maybe it was a blessing that Arradondo was in a position to be upgraded to that position without a lot of furor.”
4. Arradondo is getting blamed and praised amid Floyd's killing.
While some community members blame Arradondo for the way he has handled the controversy after the death of Floyd, others say he is doing what he can.
Raeisha Williams, a community activist and former member of the NAACP, praised the police chief for quickly bringing action against the officers involved in the killing.
“His swift action was reason they are being held accountable,” Williams told NBC News. “That was a brave step to recommend charging these officers. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in Minnesota.”
Williams said Arradondo has been doing his part to make sure the officers don't overreact when the protests get violent.
“I am 100 percent sure some of those protesters would be dead if anybody else was running the police department,” Williams said. “He is very much aware that there is racial injustice and that there is white supremacy in the police department.”
Others, however, say the police chief is not doing enough.
“The fact is he is part of the system,” community activist Adrianna Cerrillo said. “He took the right first step when he fired the police officers and he’s been visible at press conferences. But he’s not been engaging with the people.”
5. The police chief took his hat off when addressing the Floyd family.
Arradondo talked with the Floyd family in a live interview on CNN Sunday. The police chief stood in the middle of a protest for Floyd and communicated with the Floyd family while they watched from their home.
When addressing the Philonise Floyd via CNN reporter Sara Sidner, he was seen taking his hat off, which is generally a sign of respect for the addressee.
Arradondo not only acknowledged his concerns about the officer who killed Floyd but also about the rest of the officers who watched without taking action.
"To the Floyd family, being silent or not intervening, to me, you're complicit," the chief said as Floyd's brother listened from home, unable to control his tears. "So I don't see a level of distinction any different."
The police chief called the killing "a violation of humanity."
"This was a violation of the oath that the majority of the men and women that put this uniform on, this goes absolutely against it," he said.
Arradondo added that he is "absolutely devastatingly sorry for their loss."
"If I could do anything to bring Mr. Floyd back, I would do that," he said. "I would move heaven and Earth to do that. So I'm very sorry."
In regard to his decision to fire all four officers, the chief said it "was not based on some sort of hierarchy."
"Mr. Floyd died in our hands," he said. "The ultimate outcome is that he is not here with us. Silence in action is complicit. If there was one solitary voice that would have intervened, that's what I would have hoped for."