Some of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s former political rivals have agreed to work with him on a new commission that aims to improve public safety in the city.
Two former mayoral candidates who ran against Frey – Sheila Nezhad and Nekima Levy Armstrong – are among 35 who have joined the group, which also includes Frey’s supporter and former mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. The commission brings together activists who have lobbied to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with supporters of the department, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, whom Frey hopes to persuade to return for another term.
“We are all here today because we collectively realize and understand that there is still a lot of work to be done,” Frey said at a press conference Thursday morning. “We have to keep our foot on the gas.”
The Minneapolis Police Department is at a crucial time. Just a few weeks ago, he survived a push to replace him, but many are still calling for meaningful changes following the murder of George Floyd. It is not yet clear who will lead the department next year. Arradondo’s term expires in January and he has yet to publicly announce whether he wishes to stay for another. When asked if Arradondo is committed to staying, Frey said: “We are working on it every day”.
The Public Security Commission is responsible for providing the mayor with a number of recommendations on how to improve departmental accountability and expand security services outside of the police service. Frey said he didn’t want to predict what kinds of ideas they might provide him with, but hopes the group will identify which topics the city can unilaterally address and which might require help from other levels of government. .
This is the third commission Frey unveiled as he prepares to take on additional powers on Friday. This fall, voters approved a charter change that designates the mayor as the “chief executive” responsible for overseeing the operations of most departments, and prohibiting the council from interfering with its directives.
The group is co-chaired by Reverend Dr DeWayne Davis, who is the chief minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church, and Levy Armstrong, a lawyer and civil rights activist who came forward against Frey in 2017.
“As a person who normally works outside of what is going on at City Hall and takes to the streets, along with many other activists, I recognize that it is time to come inside and do what I can do in conjunction with the people who signed up to be a part of this massive endeavor, “Levy Armstrong said at the press conference.” We currently have competing demands, one that includes the needs of problem solving serving with the Minneapolis Police Department and strengthening the leadership of Chief Arradondo and those who remained in the department, as well as responding to public safety concerns, particularly that the black community experienced. “
Frey said he hoped the group would provide recommendations in the “first half” of next year. The mayor has previously said the committees he forms will not meet publicly – he wants people to feel free to speak frankly when debating political issues – but he expects to make their recommendations public. .
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