Agreement at Last

Federal mediation of MPD-minority troubles concludes: Now what?

Despite these obvious concerns, it's been some time since such a major piece of city business has drawn such widespread praise. Much of this has to do with the proposed establishment of what Olson calls "the heart and soul of this agreement," the Police Community Relations Council. The PCRC will be made up of 30 members, 18 chosen by the Unity Community Team and 12 MPD personnel, including the chief. The group will oversee and monitor implementation of the mediation agreement.

In fact, the group will hear out any grievances from either side, something that's bound to happen as events move forward and Thursday's goodwill fades. But for now there seems to be a mutual determination by each side to tend to its own affairs. As Bethel said on Thursday, "We really don't want the Justice Department in our backyard again."

 

Clarifying what the mayor wants in a chief: With so much of the mediation agreement hanging in the balance, the choice of a successor to Olson is as critical as ever. It is, as Robert Lilligren says, "a roadmap for the new chief."

Two weeks ago in this column, I wrote that Mayor R.T. Rybak had said he wanted the chief to be a person of color or a woman. He later phoned me to say otherwise. "I never said that; I said I want a diverse pool of candidates," he says. "What is important is that a person that has this job can work with this city."

He's right. So far as I can tell, Rybak never expressly said what I attributed to him. But it still bears noting that his choice for an interim chief when he tried to oust Olson in April of 2002 was a woman, MPD Deputy Chief Lucy Gerold. And the Oldani Group, the company hired by the city to conduct the search, has a reputation for finding minority and female candidates.

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