Police Chief Janee Harteau said Wednesday that a new committee of community leaders will help draft an action plan in coming weeks to address the root causes of community dissatisfaction with the department.
In a continuing response to two racially charged incidents involving Minneapolis officers that sparked outrage in the community, Harteau met with the department's Citizens' Advisory Council and again apologized for two recently disclosed incidents of alleged police misconduct.
"My apology was the actions of the officers certainly in the Green Bay video were not reflective of the [department]," the chief said. "That that's not who we are, and we are better than that. We all deserve better than that. And that was how we began."
“That that's not who we are, and we are better than that. We all deserve better than that.”Janee Harteau, Minneapolis police chief
Harteau also said she would be receptive to a federal investigation of the department but wants to start with the work of the committee.
"If we feel we need some assistance from outside, we could be open to that," she said. "We're going to start with us and see what we need from there."
Two officers are on leave after police in Green Bay, Wis., said they used profanity and racially charged language following a disturbance in June. Three other Minneapolis officers were cited in a Nov. 19 bar fight with a group of black men in Apple Valley, Minn. In that incident, two of the officers later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Harteau said the group decided to break into four subcommittees that would address community engagement, police recruiting, training and accountability.
The chief said that the subcommittees will come up with recommendations by the third week in September so she can decide on a plan to ensure against future incidents of friction between the community and police.
"This is not a one-time thing," she said. "This is about creating institutional change."
Harteau, who has apologized to Green Bay police and repeatedly to Minneapolis residents, also issued an apology today to members of the advisory council.
Although the meeting was not open to reporters, the department confirmed that it invited religious and civic leaders, educators and members of neighborhood groups -- all invited by the chief.
"I'm tired and I want something to happen -- but I want it to happen in a positive way," said member Arnetta Phillips. "And sitting in this private meeting today gave me a little bit more hope to where I know that this is not just going to be brushed and pushed aside. It's actually going to make some change."
Harteau said after the meeting that she allowed people in the room to express their frustrations over previous encounters with police officers because she wanted to acknowledge that the recent incidents had stirred up simmering frustrations with the department.
Among the community leaders present was Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple. He said Harteau didn't try to justify the actions of her officers.
"The dialog was very transparent and candid," Howell said. "We did not mince our words, but at the end of the day we left this meeting with the greatest hope we can have at this time."
The police union hasn't responded to repeated calls or emails in more than a week, but Harteau said representatives from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis were at the table today. She said that's a good sign, because union officials need to participate in any changes the council recommends.
"We need their support," Harteau said. "We have processes that don't often allow us to do what we need to do to make us better so we need to talk about that and that's a lot of what those subgroups are going to do: really address issues -- where the process works, where we just need to utilize it more, where we might need to make change, legally or otherwise."