Panel approves Harteau’s reappointment

A key City Council committee has approved reappointing Police Chief Janeé Harteau to another three-year term.

The full Council will vote on the reappointment Friday.

Mayor Betsy Hodges praised Harteau during two public hearings, calling her a proactive chief and the right person to continue leading reform efforts within the department.

She noted that officers began undergoing procedural justice training this week as part of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice — a groundbreaking project Minneapolis is participating in along with five other cities across the country.

City Council members heard from many other supporters of the chief during public hearings Wednesday and Feb. 3, along with many critics.

Protesters who occupied the 4th Precinct for 18 days after the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark questioned her leadership and told stories of being mistreated by police. One North Side resident told Council members that she witnessed officers jeer and point weapons at protesters and was Maced and jabbed with a baton by an officer. 

Other critics have called for a new process to vet complaints about police misconduct. 

Before the Council’s Committee of the Whole voted to reappoint Harteau, City Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) said Minneapolis along with cities across the country are finally having an important conversation about police relations with communities of color. More people are becoming aware that people have very different experiences with police depending on the color of their skin, he said.   

“The country is having a long overdue conversation about structural and institutional racism,” he said.

During the Feb. 3 hearing, Harteau, who begins her 30th year with the MPD this month, said the important work of reforming the department is just beginning.

“When I became chief we began a long journey of transformational change, and it starts from the inside out,” she said. “… I will tell you that change is inevitable, but progress is not. Progress is intentional and I am so proud of this department and this city with the progress we’ve made.” 

Ron Edwards, a longtime civil rights activist, offered a strong endorsement of Harteau and called her one of the best chiefs the city has had in recent years.

“This chief if visionary. She can’t do everything for everybody,” he said. “Police reform is one of the toughest elements in this society.”

Metro Police Chief John Harrington said Harteau is working toward creating a department of “guardians of the public and the Constitution,” rather than warriors.

Former Mayor R.T. Rybak first nominated Harteau for police chief in 2012 after Tim Dolan announced plans to retire. She’s the city’s first female police chief and also the first openly gay and Native American chief.

The City Council’s Committee of the Whole also approved reappointments for City Attorney Susan Segal, Civil Rights Department Director Velma Korbel and Fire Chief John Fruetel on Wednesday.