Dolan tapped for chief's post in Minneapolisby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Interim police Chief Tim Dolan is Mayor RT Rybak's choice to lead the Minneapolis Police Department. Dolan is a Minneapolis native and 23-year veteran of the force. Rybak says Dolan's experience with the city and with the department makes him the best choice to be the city's next top cop.
Minneapolis, Minn. — You could say Tim Dolan has already been doing the job for at least the last year. In the summer of 2005, Dolan was promoted to the position of Assistant Chief by then-Chief William McManus.
When McManus resigned and left the city in March, Rybak said Dolan was the logical choice as the interim chief. On Monday, in the police precinct where Dolan began his career with the department more than 20 years ago, Rybak said Dolan's nomination was an easy decision to make.
"Tim Dolan is a police officer who started here and then worked his way up through every level of the Minneapolis police department. And it matters that he knows every corner of this department. But it also matters that as someone who knows this department very well, that he also knows that we need to continue to move forward," Rybak said
Dolan grew up in north Minneapolis, but currently lives outside the city. During his career with the department he's taken on several different leadership positions. Dolan has led the Narcotics and Emergency Response units and has served as Director of Training. He also spent time as the Commander of the 4th precinct in north Minneapolis.
Dolan says he didn't start out planning to be chief.
"When you work in law enforcement and you work in a department I think you work on whatever job you have and try to do the best you can within that job, and the next job kind of calls you," Dolan said.
Dolan says he's ready to take on the department's top position. And he says he's already working on how the force can combat the rise in violent crime the city has seen over the last year. Dolan says the increase in crime has been pushed along by more violent crimes committed by juveniles. He says the department is working with Minneapolis public schools to cut down on some of the precursors to criminal activity, like truancy.
"What we do is, the schools tell us who's missing, who their chronic truants are. We go to their houses. They bring information to the house. They talk to the parents, they bring the kids back to school. Basically we're trying to shorten that distance between what we know are truants and them going to court. We're going to interdict in that process," Dolan said.
If Dolan's nomination is approved by the city council, he will face other challenges besides rising crime. A few years ago, the Department entered into a federally mediated agreement that sought to improve and maintain healthy public relations - especially with communities of color. The Police Community Relations Council came about from the agreement, but lately the relationship between the force and the PCRC has been strained.
Earlier this year Dolan was interrupted by a member of the PCRC while speaking at a press conference called by the family of a young Hmong man who was shot and killed by a police officer.
Family members of the victim, Fong Lee, raised questions about racial profiling, questions that they say were not adequately answered by the police. Some members of the PCRC have expressed little confidence in Dolan's ability to change a police culture which they claim regularly discriminates against people of color.
During the nomination process, Dolan had to answer questions from a panel of community members. One of those panelists was the Rev. Albert Gallmon. When asked about Dolan's standing with minorities, Gallmon says that remains an open question.
"I think he's done a very good job so far as a police officer. And I think as you begin to go around the city and ask people of color I don't think you'll hear many bad things about Tim. But I think, he's never been in this position either," Gallmon said.
Mayor Rybak will bring his nomination to the city council later this month. A majority of the 13 councilmembers will need to approve his selection. Six councilmembers attended the mayor's announcement.
- Morning Edition, 09/12/2006, 7:20 a.m.