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Police Commander Named In Lawsuit Promoted

Inspector Matt Clark led the 5th Precinct.

The head of the Minneapolis Police Department's Fifth Precinct has been promoted to the agency's second-highest position .

As Inspector, now-Assistant Chief Matt Clark was in charge of a large swath of the city, including Southwest Minneapolis. In his new job, Clark will advise Chief Janneé Harteau on operations and strategy.

"It has been an honor working with you, and I feel we made real progress in connecting the Fifth Precinct. and the southwest community," Clark wrote in an email to precinct residents on Tuesday. "I’m happy to say that the Fifth Precinct had the city’s greatest reduction for violent crime in 2012 (a reduction of over 18 percent)! There will always be work to do as we strive for greater crime reductions. Thank you for your partnership and collaboration."

Clark is being replaced  by the Fifth Precinct's former Community Response Team commander, Inspector Anthony Diaz. Diaz joined the department at age 20, rising through the ranks while working undercover and beat patrol assignments. Since 2010, Diaz had also been a shift commander at the Fifth Precinct.

Earlier this month, Clark and several other city officials were sued  by a bar owner in the Lyndale neighborhood. 

Rick Nelson, owner of Champion's Bar and Grill, alleges Clark and city business inspectors conspired to shutter his business using what the suit claims were trumped-up drug charges. In response to the suit, a city spokesperson sent documents detailing a history of conflict between city regulators and the bar. Harteau and City Attorney Susan Segal sent these statements to Patch:

Segal:

When you look at the list of complaints of criminal activity at this establishment, it is clear that the City is right to take enforcement action. There is a documented history of criminal and nuisance activity at this business. The fact that this lawsuit takes aim at City employees is not uncommon—it’s typical for those involved in enforcement to be targeted when they do their jobs. The fact of the matter is that City inspectors must take tough enforcement actions when a business is creating unsafe conditions, and that’s what residents demand of us. The City is resolute in fulfilling its duty to fairly and equitably regulate all licensed businesses to ensure public safety, and that is what has been done in this case.

Harteau:

I can’t discuss the specifics of this lawsuit. However, I have tremendous faith that the command staff and officers in the 5th Precinct, as well as licensing inspectors, do their work with the highest integrity and with an absolute focus on serving the public. I want to be very clear that it’s our responsibility to ensure that businesses are running safe operations and to hold them accountable when they are not. We have a responsibility to the public and neighborhoods to take action to require businesses to correct security and livability problems at their premises.

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