Dolan reappointment moves forward after public hearingby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan's reappointment has taken another step forward after a council committee approved Dolan's appointment following public testimony Wednesday night in support and against giving him a second term as chief.
It was standing room only inside the council chamber at Minneapolis City Hall. More people spoke in favor of Chief Dolan's appointment than against it. But Dolan's opponents had more vocal supporters, which caused hearing moderator, council member Don Samuels, to ask them curb their enthusiasm.
"OK, I'm going to ask you to hold down on the clapping," he told the assembled crowd.
Samuels explained that he didn't want speakers to feel intimidated by the applause. But the crowd ignored him continued to applaud speakers like Tom Cleland, who criticized Dolan as being reluctant to discipline police officers.
"Tim Dolan gave the Medal of Valor to the cop that shot Fong Lee," Cleland said.
Cleland is talking about Officer Jason Andersen. Fong Lee's family believed Lee was unarmed when Andersen shot him and sued. However a jury found Andersen not guilty of using excessive force.
Dolan eventually fired Officer Andersen. But the firing came a few years after the shooting and shortly after Andersen was cleared of a domestic abuse charge. Some of Dolan's critics, like Deborah Allen, say Dolan has been too hard on officers, and implied that Dolan fired Andersen because of pressure from the media.
"He's taken several of the officers and thrown them under the bus," Allen said.
Other critics took on Dolan for disciplining a small number of officers who were the subject of sustained complaints from the Civilian Review Authority.
Some of the people who spoke in favor of Dolan's reappointment are residents of north Minneapolis, which contains some of the city's most crime challenged neighborhoods. John Hoff, also known as blogger Johnny Northside, testified that Dolan is responsible for progress in the Hawthorne neighborhood.
"What I'm here to ask for is please give Dolan the tools and resources he's going to need to continue to be successful," Hoff said.
Hoff added that the cuts in the department have meant the loss of police administration staff which he and his neighbors rely on for information.
Other supporters, like University of Minnesota Police Chief Greg Hestness, testified about Dolan's character. A former Minneapolis police officer and deputy chief, Hestness used to supervise Dolan. He said he could always depend on Dolan and he said the city is better off with him at the helm.
"When Mayor Rybak selected Tim in 2006, I was one of the three finalists," Hestness said. "I knew for certain that without a doubt I was the second best choice on that list."
After listening to two hours of testimony, council members offered their own thoughts on the reappointment.
Council member Cam Gordon decided that after reviewing a set of criteria on Dolan's performance, that the chief hadn't met most of the goals. Gordon voted against Dolan's appointment. However, three committee members--Samuels, Barbara Johnson and Diane Hofstede--who all represent parts of north Minneapolis voted in favor of Dolan.
The two remaining committee members, Betsy Hodges and Meg Tuthill, abstained.
The final vote on Dolan's reappointment goes to the full council next week.
- Morning Edition, 03/04/2010, 6:20 a.m.