Members of the Minneapolis police chief search committee held its last of five listening sessions on May 3 at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park community building. The gathering was hosted by search committee chair and Ward 4 Councilmember LaTrisha Vetaw. Search committee members Greg Hestness, Lisa Clemons, Sara Jones, and Emma Peterson sat in front of the crowd to listen to community members share their feedback on what they’d like to see in the city’s next police chief.
Upon arrival, all attendees were given a sheet of paper outlining the purpose of the listening session and three questions the committee sought feedback on: what qualifications are most important when selecting the next chief of police?; what should be the highest priorities of the next chief of police?; and what leadership qualities are most important when selecting the next chief of police?
Attendees were offered a number if they wanted to speak. During the session, Vetaw called out the numbers in order. Over 20 people shared their perspectives.
Many community members who spoke shared their concerns about the Minneapolis Police Department’s culture detailed in the Minnesota Department of Human Rights report released at the end of April.
Another repeated request was for the search committee to pick someone outside of the city in hopes that MPD’s culture can be disrupted by an outside hire.
One attendee said they wanted “a safe city, not a place where police rule."
Community organization 1 Minneapolis, a group focused on police reform, presented “five capabilities” it believes are needed in the next police chief. Most of what 1 Minneapolis shared echoed other community members’ input, too. 1 Minneapolis's brief argued a strong candidate would have experience with: moving a police department away from warrior-style training, leading a cultural change and guiding behavior shifts, creating effective accountability systems for officers, a track record of “improving anti-racism in policing through systemic change,” and using data and analytics “to read a police force to greater justice.”
According to Vetaw, feedback from the five listening sessions will be compiled and given to the search firm who is assisting in writing the job call and recruitment materials. At the session Vetaw said integrating the community listening session feedback and producing the search materials will be done within a few weeks. Vetaw also mentioned that the original goal was to have a candidate chosen by early July, but Vetaw said that timeline seemed too soon given the community engagement process.
Roughly a dozen people with the Agape Movement, a community group active in and around George Floyd Square, filled in the back bleachers. Other city leaders present included search committee member and City Council President and Ward 8 Councilmember Andrea Jenkins and Ward 13 Councilmember Linea Palmisano. Vetaw pointed out later in the session that Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Director Gillespie was also present.