Chief search: Now with 100% less hype!

Mayor, city council low-key on who will head the MPD

Just two and a half years ago, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was sounding all sorts of bells and whistles, signaling that he was going to search far and wide for the best candidate to replace former MPD Chief Robert Olson. At the time, Rybak's search--conducted by an outside firm to the tune of $34,000--had a "look-at-me" aspect to it, a defining moment in a young mayor's career.

Since the results of that search didn't really pan out as planned--Rybak's marquee man Bill McManus left town six weeks ago, disgruntled--hizzoner is taking a much lower profile in finding a successor.

Wait a minute--is there a search going on? Officially, the answer is no.

"I'm afraid that I don't have a lot to offer by way of an update on the police chief selection at this time," Rybak flack Jeremy Hanson tells Blotter. "All I can say is that we are getting closer, but are not quite ready to announce the process for a police chief selection."

The conventional wisdom around City Hall is twofold. For starters, Rybak's wings are clipped because he went against the wishes of several City Council members, who wanted to hire from within the force, last time around with McManus. Also, with McManus's quick departure, Rybak can't afford any instability or carpetbaggers in the position--no one wants to stomach the idea of looking for yet another chief two years from now.

Rybak is working very hard to at least appear to consult council members this time around. "Mayor Rybak is taking time to discuss next steps for a police chief selection process with council members to get their important input before acting," confirms Hanson.

This is echoed by City Council Prez Barb Johnson, who had been an advocate for internal candidates before. "I've always said that the person who comes into the chief's job needs to have a working knowledge of the department and the city," Johnson notes, confirming that she has indeed told the mayor as much--again. "You feel kind of burned after what happened last time."

Still, Johnson says that there's been no real forward movement on the issue, to her knowledge. This surprising contentment comes with Rybak's appointment of Assistant Chief Tim Dolan as Interim Chief. (The appointment, which came at the end of March, is a 90-day gig.) Dolan was one of the three main internal candidates last time, along with deputy chiefs Lucy Gerold and Sharon Lubinski.

Dolan rose to a level of prominence under the last chief; it appeared as though McManus was grooming Dolan for the job all along. While the other two candidates have been going about their day-to-day business on the force, Dolan has been in the spotlight as a measured, no-nonsense cop who is also fairly astute politically. In other words, he would appear to have a leg up.

"He was managing most the the affairs of the department already," Johnson says, before adding that she's hardly endorsing Dolan or anyone to get the official nod.

It's evident that some members of communities of color--especially those in African American circles--had a great love for McManus, something they don't share with Dolan, Lubinski or Gerold. But Johnson indicates that this is a non-issue.

"The so-called leaders in the community do not represent the real people in the community," Johnson says, pooh-poohing the need for a wide-ranging search that quells community fears. "When the search gets started, I would assume we'd all do well to look close to home."