The City Council is expected to vote this week to approve the nomination of Janee Harteau as the next chief of police.
If confirmed, Harteau, 47, will be the city's first female police chief. Harteau, who has worked her way through the department for 25 years, is well-prepared for her new role, some say.
At Police Chief Tim Dolan's retirement party last month at City Hall, Janee Harteau joked she might grab on to the outgoing chief's leg to keep him from leaving. Dolan told her she won't need his help.
Joking aside, Harteau appears to be easing comfortably into her new role. She has been acting chief since Dolan's last day and has already become the public face of the department. As a nervous city waited to hear details about a reported shooting at a downtown office building earlier this month, Harteau broke the news that the report was false.
Harteau is a Duluth native who graduated with a degree in law enforcement from Hibbing Community College in 1986. Her personnel file contains several recommendations for awards as well as letters of commendation. Harteau started as a police officer in February 1987 and was recommended for a medal that same year.
In August 1987, Harteau chased two young men through the Little Earth American Indian community near 24th St. and Cedar Ave., a place where "many officers would not have gone," Harteau's commanding officer at the time said.
When she is sworn in as Minneapolis chief of police, Harteau will accomplish what few women in law enforcement have been able to attain. Currently, in the U.S. there are only a handful of female police chiefs over departments the size of Minneapolis. At a press conference earlier this year, Harteau was asked how she felt about being the first woman in the city's history to take over the job.
"It is a proud moment, but it is also, quite frankly, a scary moment because I do feel like all eyes are upon me for more than one reason," Harteau said. "It's really not about me, I'm just Janee. And it's about who we serve and about the people that we work with to get us there."
Harteau is part Chippewa and hopes her background can help strengthen the department's relationships with other communities of color.
The head of the Little Earth community, Bill Ziegler, said he has served on a couple committees with Harteau, but did not know until recently of her American Indian heritage.
"It's not something Janee puts out there in the public sphere, if you will," Ziegler said. "She just does her job."
Ziegler said under Dolan, the department was effective at reaching out to the American Indian community. He said Dolan actively pushed the concept of community-based policing.
"And I think Janee is the same way, at least she's proven that up to this point," Ziegler said. "I think she's going to be really good for the community and I think she'll be good for the department."
As chief, Harteau must maintain working relationships with the department's officers and the police union.
Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said he patrolled the 3rd precinct with Harteau back in the mid-1990s.
"She's a person of her word. She's respected throughout the department. I'm an eternal optimist. I think she'll do a good job and be a good leader," Delmonico said. "We're always willing to work with whoever the chief is. So I look forward to working with her."
There will be a public hearing on Wednesday regarding Harteau's nomination. When it meets on Friday, the Minneapolis City Council is expected to approve Harteau's nomination. Harteau is due to be sworn in next week.