The woman likely to become the first female police chief in Minneapolis says she is feeling a lot of support and pressure to succeed.
Asst. Police Chief Janee Harteau was announced earlier this week as Mayor R.T. Rybak's nominee to replace Police Chief Tim Dolan, who will retire in January.
Today, Harteau, Dolan and Rybak spoke with the public. Harteau said she has been overwhelmed by the attention her nomination has generated.
"People are very much cheering for me, cheering for the police department. And I feel a little bit of an enormous responsibility to be successful," Harteau said. "But I know I didn't get here alone. I got here frankly on the shoulders of many women and pioneers before me."
Harteau joined the police department in 1987 and rose through the ranks, becoming assistant police chief since 2011. She had been inspector of the downtown precinct for three years and in 2009 she was made deputy chief of the Patrol Bureau.
Harteau, 47, who is part Chippewa, part French Canadian and a native of Duluth, said she never imagined she would be police chief.
Harteau hopes her Native American roots and her status as the first woman to occupy the position will help build trust between the department and the city's racial and ethnic communities.
"I appreciate anything that might help that and if I certainly could be a role model I'm happy to do that," Harteau said. "I would hope to be able to build relationships in other communities and although I don't have that ethnicity, I think just being open minded and caring about people and trying to do the right thing is also enough to help build trust."
Dolan, who has been with the department for 29 years, said he is excited to see his protege take over the top spot.
"She's got an incredible head on her shoulders. She is progressive. I've been excited about her for a long time and she brings not just a lot to the Minneapolis Police Department, but to the profession and this nation," Dolan said. "I'm excited about it and I consider it a huge success for the Minneapolis police department."
Harteau said she wants to continue Dolan's legacy of reducing violent crime. She acknowledges there has been a stubborn uptick in violent crime in north Minneapolis, particularly among young people. She plans to further use data analysis to identify problem areas and evaluate whether strategies are successful.
"Well, we've made some really good progress on violent crime and certainly as long as we have unsolved cases like Terrell Mayes our work is not done," Harteau said. "We're focusing on what crime trends and patterns we have in the area and using all of our resources and truly understanding what's going on in that area and putting all of our resources towards it."
Rybak will formally nominate Harteau to the city council in January, after Dolan's retirement. Rybak said he is confident the council will approve her appointment.