It is clear that Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Chief Tim Dolan has known that many of the recommendations coming from the Civilian Review Authority (CRA) were based on incompetence and dishonesty. So when an incompetent and dishonest recommendation was made to terminate two officers of color, the chief dug in and not only refused to fire the officers, but also reinstated them to duty.
The action of reinstatement has revealed a significant and politically charged rift inside the top command of the MPD, along with an equally serious rift between the chief and his boss, Mayor R.T. Rybak. Contributing to the rift was the act of Assistant Chief Janee Harteau and Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher when they terminated the two officers of color without proper consultation with the chief.
Other actions include the leaking of the fact of the rift as reported in a December 19, 2011 article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. At that time, some in his own command indicated Dolan would be stepping down as chief in January 2012, a full year before his contract was to expire.
The chief clearly identified the assistant chief and the deputy chief, as well as members of the Civil Rights Department (CRD) and the CRA staff (which is a part of the Minneapolis CRD), as sources of the leaks. According to reliable sources inside the police department, this was seen in statements by former CRA Chairman Bellfield as he closed out his term as a member of the CRA Board.
The rift significantly increased when the chief reversed the actions of Harteau and Gerlicher. This deepening of the rift comes at a difficult time for the Rybak administration and the city council and those attempting to undermine Chief Dolan as head of the department.
The lawsuit filed in 2011 by Lt. Andrew Smith and Sgt. Patrick King will go to trial in April of 2012. Chief Dolan became significantly aware of this when one of his favorite deputy chiefs, Rob Allen, was identified as not having properly supervised Lt. Smith and Sgt. King. Apparently, in December 2011 and January 2012 the chief uncovered the sources of numerous rumors and attacks on his administration in the attempts of others to position Assistant Chief Harteau as his successor.
This has now led to a new political quagmire involving discussions of bringing in an outside person to succeed Chief Dolan. One person discussed is an African American. At this time, I choose not to disclose the person’s name.
The discussions are at a crucial stage inside city hall. Some say Harteau has lost the support and confidence of Council President Barb Johnson, a very powerful player in the process of selecting a new chief.
This all comes at a significant time for the Rybak administration in light of pending lawsuits against the City by Lt. Michael Keefe and Lt. Lee Edwards. Having a significant impact on relationships is the Star Tribune declining to report on the conspiracy against Chief Dolan as well as failing to report on the collapse of the CRA as a functional entity. Some maintain that that in itself will strengthen the chief’s hand if he decides to initiate litigation to protect both his tenure as chief and his reputation as a law enforcement officer.
This rift has driven an unprecedented wedge into the department, maybe the most significant since the dark days of 2007 and 2008, when Black police officers were the targets of the conspiracy that destroyed the Black Police Officers Association and made them nearly invisible.
I will continue to follow this closely over the next weeks. Damage has been done to the effectiveness of this department in certain areas of administration and professional performance.
Historically, this kind of bureaucratic infighting over a position bringing out the worst in people is not unusual. The most celebrated example was the decades-later exposure of the identity of “Deep Throat,” whose Watergate leaks led to bringing down the Nixon administration.
Deep Throat, as it turned out, was Mark Felton, who attempted to position himself as the successor to FBI head J. Edgar Hoover (as reported in the new book Enemies: A History of the FBI,” by Tim Weiner).
As Robert Peale, who created the first modern police department in 1829 London and who later became British Prime Minister, said, “There seems to me to be very few facts, at least ascertainable facts, in politics.”
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.