MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said Thursday that Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo violated the city's ethics rules when he spoke out regarding the controversial ballot question on replacing the police department with a department of public safety.
During a press conference Wednesday, the police chief told reporters that no elected officials have spoken to him about the ballot amendment. "I was not expecting some sort of robust, detailed word-for-word plan, but at this point, quite frankly, I would take a drawing on a napkin and I have not seen either," Arradondo said.
When the chief spoke, he was in full police uniform and stood before a background of MPD and city logos. While he said that he was trying to keep the department as apolitical as possible, he said that he would not be in favor of the ballot amendment, which will be put to voters next week.
In response, Bender filed an ethics complaint against the chief and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who overseas the police department. In a statement, she said an investigation is needed to probe the Wednesday press conference to see whether or not city funds were used, including city logos and Minneapolis police uniforms, for an event that took a position on the ballot question.
In addition to filing the complaint, Bender said that the police chief mischaracterized the planning that's gone into the proposed Department of Public Safety, which would replace the police department if residents vote yes on Ballot Question 2. She said that years of work has gone into analyzing and trying to reform the current public safety system and Arradondo knows this because his department has been involved the entire time.
"I cannot understand why Chief Arradondo would say that no planning has been done for a Department of Public Safety when he is fully aware that extensive work has already been done over several years, before and after the murder of George Floyd," she said.
As noted in her statement, earlier this year the city's ethics officer warned the Minneapolis City Council to be careful not to use government resources to advocate for or against ballot proposals that would go before voters in November.
"Chief Arradondo stands by every word that he said," MPD said in a statement. "Council President Bender has made the decision to launch an ethics complaint. The Chief respects the ethics process and will cooperate fully. The Chief firmly believes that he has an obligation to be honest and truthful with the residents of the city regarding their public safety and he will continue to do that."
In response to Bender's filing, Frey said "Chief Arradondo made the decision to speak out on his own. Council President Bender's decision to include me in the complaint is simply a desperate, last ditch political stunt on her way out the door. It should be treated as such."
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