This morning the City Council unanimously approved my nomination of Medaria Arradondo for the position of police chief. My remarks made in the meeting follow.
Thank you, Council President Johnson; thank you, Council Member Yang, for bringing forward Rondo’s nomination from the Public Safety Committee; and thank you, Council Members, for allowing me to speak here today.
Today is a big day for Minneapolis.
It’s always a big day when we get a new police chief: for our residents and for our officers. It doesn’t happen that often, and when it does, we should take the time to note it, as we are doing here today.
Today, we are asking a onetime child of Minneapolis, of the Southside, who for the last 28 years has served as an officer who has risen the ranks of our department, to take on the top job in our department. This is a great challenge, and a great opportunity.
We are asking him to take on the top job at an unprecedented time. For our residents, it is a time when they have been shaken by recent events: the shooting of Justine Damond, to be sure, and others as well. We are asking him to do this when not only in Minneapolis, but nationally, more attention than ever and more expectations than ever are on policing, police officers, and police departments, including our own. We are asking him to do this at a time when some residents believe our highest imperative is public trust, and other residents believe our highest imperative is public safety, and to some of them, the two feel incompatible.
And we are asking him to take on the top job at a time when many of our officers are also deeply affected by the same recent events. Their profession, as well as our expectations for it, is changing rapidly, and they are wondering what is next. In the midst of this change and uncertainty, they continue to heed the call to serve in ways small and large — including just a couple weeks ago at Minnehaha Academy, where I spoke to officers who had raced toward a burning building to save lives, with no thought of their own.
This is the unprecedented moment in which we are asking Rondo to serve as chief. We are asking him to do it because in this unprecedented moment, he is the person of community, the person of service, and the person of vision who I am confident will help lead us where we know we want to go.
Rondo is a person of community. Let me be clear: Rondo isn’t just committed to community — he is a person of community, made and shaped by it in his core. Anyone with any doubt about that had only to look at the scores of people from every community, neighborhood, and walk of life who eagerly stepped up to speak in support of him at last week’s public hearing. To a person, people told us that Rondo’s rootedness in community gives them a level of belief, confidence, and trust in him that is matched in almost no one else.
Rondo is a person of service. He has dedicated his professional life to serving the people of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department, by working as a team member and collaborator, sharing credit, and putting others forward ahead of himself. I am especially pleased that as chief, he will be a great collaborator and team player with his colleagues across all departments at the City of Minneapolis.
The service-oriented leadership quality of Rondo’s that has struck me the most — one that is rooted in being a person of community and a person of service — is that he leads by listening. Many leaders lead by talking, but Rondo leads by listening. As a result, I think everyone who has ever had a conversation with Rondo, even a brief one, can attest that they left the conversation feeling fundamentally heard. At a time in the life of our city when so many people, including residents and officers, want to be and feel fundamentally heard and acknowledged on issues related to policing, safety, and trust, his ability to lead from a place of service and listening is essential.
And Rondo is a person of vision. This may be an aspect of him with which people are less familiar, because he is always putting others first and making sure others are heard first. But I have already seen, and we will all soon see, that he has a clear vision of public safety and public trust not as incompatible, but as essential and inseparable components of one another. He will be a chief and a leader who will not only ingrain into the department the many important changes we have made in recent years, he will move forward with his own inspiring vision for transformation.
As I said, today is a big day for Minneapolis. Council Members, thank you for what you are about to do on this big day, and I do, again ask you to support him. To our officers, thank you for your continued dedication and service. To our residents, thank you for your ongoing commitment to making Minneapolis the best we can be.
Finally, Chief Rondo, thank you for your willingness to serve as our chief in this unprecedented and powerful moment of transformation for our communities, our city, and our people, of which you are so fundamentally a part. You have my emphatic and strongest support. I look forward to the great work we’re going to do together for Minneapolis.