Minneapolis mulls chief’s pay raise in search of new MPD chief

Minneapolis officials are considering a pay raise for the police chief as they search for someone to lead a department that continues to come under national scrutiny since the killing of George Floyd.

According to the proposal, the city’s next police chief would earn between $253,000 and $300,000, a significant increase from the roughly $204,000 former chief Medaria Arradondo received last year.

Mayor Jacob Frey said he believes the increase will be crucial in attracting high-caliber candidates at a time when many cities across the country are looking for police chiefs.

“We felt strongly that in order to recruit from inside or outside of our Minneapolis Police Department, we had to pay properly,” the mayor said at a news conference Monday.

Some council members, however, wondered if that money could be better spent on other public safety services or efforts to improve police department accountability.

“I just wouldn’t support a dramatic increase in the police chief’s salary,” said council member Jason Chavez, one of two to vote against the proposal in committee. “We already pay a lot of money for a police chief, and we could use that money to help other employees in our town and across town.”

Minneapolis is searching for a new police chief at a time when the city — like many others — is grappling with how to respond to calls to transform public safety since Floyd’s killing. In addition to questions about how they will reduce crime, many police leadership candidates are now expected to present plans to reduce racial disparities in policing and work with other civilian-led agencies to adopt a broader approach to public safety.

“The murder of George Floyd ended up in what many police departments across the country are looking for. In other words, what have you learned from these murders across the country?” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington DC-based think tank, said in an interview in early spring.

Five months after Arradondo, the city’s first black police chief, retired, the city is only at the beginning of the search for his successor. Minneapolis has hired a California-based company, Public Sector Search & Consulting Inc., and some elected officials have since participated in listening sessions designed to get feedback on the qualities residents want the next police chief to possess. The city said it expects the job description to be finalized “within the next week.”

Months after the police department survived an effort to replace it, many aspects of the MPD remain evolving. The department has about 280 fewer police officers than before Floyd’s death. It faces one of the worst increases in violent crime in decades. State officials want the city to enter into a consent decree after discovering the department engaged in racial discrimination, and federal officials are conducting a similar investigation.

“Needless to say, this is very tough work. In order to recruit and hire the best and the brightest, we’re going to have to make sure they’re properly compensated,” the mayor said.

Officials backing the increase point to data provided by the firm doing the national research, which looked at the salaries of “the top 60 police chiefs across the country.” The city had not released the full analysis Monday night, but wrote in a request for council approval that salaries for those positions ranged from $124,334 to $335,000.

“To attract high-quality applicants, we believe the city will need to pay in the top quartile of the survey group ($256,061 to $335,000) given the unique challenges facing our city,” the application states.

Council member Robin Wonsley, who voted against the proposal in committee, said she thinks the city should focus its efforts on working with the state to implement a consent decree and resolve the underlying issues. underlying within the MPD. Tackling these issues, she said, could also help recruit future public safety leaders.

“Why are we pouring money into an inherently dysfunctional, violent and racist system,” she said.

The proposal is expected to go to the full city council for a final vote on Thursday.