Harteau pledges to rebuild trust in wake of outrage over reported police behavior

Police Chief Janee Harteau
Police Chief Janee Harteau is shown at a news conference in a file photo taken Friday, May 10, 2013 outside Minneapolis City Hall. In the wake of community outrage over reports of police behavior, Harteau said she plans to meet with community leaders and representatives of the police union to begin rebuilding trust between the department and community.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

After two incidents in which Minneapolis police officers were accused of racially charged behavior, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau on Monday pledged to work to ensure her officers treat people with respect.

"People get motivated when they're angry, when they're frustrated, when they say enough is enough -- and whether it be internally at this department or externally in the community, people have had enough," Harteau said. "It's high time that we start to move this department in the right direction."

In the wake of community outrage over the reported behavior, Harteau said she plans to meet on Wednesday with religious and cultural leaders and representatives of the police union to begin rebuilding trust between the department and community.

"I don't want to come up with a bunch of ideas until I hear from those who are directly impacted," Harteau said. "My goal is to connect cops as well with those community members and have real conversations."

Harteau also said she plans to appeal to the "silent majority" of Minneapolis officers who do good work every day.

Chief Harteau
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, right, and Assistant Chief Matt Clark talk to Sondra Samuels, left, and Bruce Murray, second from left, about ways the police department can improve relations with the African American community Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at the Northside Achievement Zone offices at West Broadway and Penn avenues N. in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

"They're very angry and they're very frustrated with what they saw on the video and audio in Green Bay," Harteau said. "I'm asking them to no longer be silent, I'm asking them to hold each other accountable, and when they see or hear things, to know that from the chief on down, that's not to be tolerated."

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Two officers are on leave after they used profanity and racially charged language following a June bar fight in Green Bay, Wis.

Three other Minneapolis officers were cited in a Nov. 19 bar fight with a group of black men in Apple Valley. Two officers later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in that incident.

The Minneapolis Police Department is conducting internal affairs investigations of both incidents.

The president of Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement Sunday that the union is willing to review hiring practices and work to improve racial and cultural sensitivity training programs.

"We must impartially enforce the law without discriminating against any citizen based on their race, sexual orientation, religion or national origin," wrote union President Lt. John Delmonico. "There is no place in MPD for racist and bigoted officers."

The Minneapolis City Council shut down the long-running Civilian Police Review Authority last year. Its successor, the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission, won't be up and running until next month. Harteau has said she plans to involve the new commission in the dialogue between the community and police.