At a commemorative gathering in Minneapolis last Saturday, Tony Bauza, a bold New Yorker, a modest intellectual, and an analytically minded advocate for police reform, was lauded.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The former Minneapolis police chief passed away on June 26 at the Almira Choice Care Center in Bloomington at the age of 94.
Experts in policing methodologies, renowned worldwide, spoke at a post-meridian event at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota, reflecting on Bauza’s contributions to the law enforcement profession during his leadership in New York City and Minneapolis. There is tangible evidence of his influence, as he served as chief from 1981 to 1988.
Police Chief Brian O’Hara remarked, “Tony Bauza was specifically invited to Minneapolis as an outsider to instigate comprehensive reforms within the Minneapolis Police Department.” “The parallels between his career and mine are not lost on my mind. Tony was known as an unconventional, outspoken officer who fearlessly voiced his opinions.”
By any measure, Bauza was exceptional. A staunch advocate for law enforcement, he denounced racism within his own department and pledged to eliminate officers who used excessive force.
Speakers highlighted that he was an avid reader, frequently quoting Rudyard Kipling and Voltaire to articulate his views, and authored a dozen books. Joseph Selvagio, a close friend of Bauza and founder of the Project for Pride in Living, which constructs housing for low-income individuals, described Bauza’s writings as intellectually stimulating.
Bauza maintained an open-door policy, allowing visitors to walk directly into his office at City Hall without the need for an appointment or screening by a receptionist.
One of his sons, Tony Bauza, recollected, “During his tenure as chief, anyone could approach him without an appointment and without any screening process.” Another son, Dominic, also spoke and presided over the gathering. “Our phone number was publicly listed, and we received calls late into the night.”
Several speakers acknowledged Bauza’s wife, Erica, known for her involvement in peaceful civil disobedience protests against the production of cluster bombs in the 1980s, for which she was arrested by Bauza’s officers along with numerous others. Chief Bauza even brought cookies to the protesters as they waited to be processed on buses.
Lawrence W. Sherman, the chief scientific officer at Scotland Yard for the London Metropolitan Police, traveled from London to speak at the memorial and emphasized Bauza’s substantial influence on the Minneapolis and New York police departments. He emphasized that Bauza “pioneered evidence-based policing” through initiatives that have been replicated globally.
This included conducting computerized analysis of addresses with the highest police call volumes and concentrating efforts on addressing the factors contributing to these problematic addresses.
Charles Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent research organization in Washington, DC, detailed Bauza’s experiment that revolutionized the handling of domestic violence cases in numerous cities across the nation.
In many instances, when responding to domestic disputes, police departments simply separated the individuals and asked one partner to take a walk, but did not address the underlying issues. In numerous cases, the individual would return and commit violence again.
Bauza sought to determine if making an arrest would make a difference. Officers were randomly assigned to either arrest the individual or attempt some form of counseling, and the results were analyzed to assess the impact of the arrest.
Although unconventional and risky, this practice proved effective, became standard procedure, and the Minneapolis approach set the national precedent, as pointed out by Wexler.
Wexler mentioned that many states have enacted legislation mandating the arrest of domestic abusers as a result.
Former Minneapolis mayor Sharon Sayles Belton acknowledged, “Chief Bauza stirred things up.” “He made numerous missteps,” she stated, but underscored his commitment to a strategy of “fostering community confidence.”