Updated: April 27, 2:10 p.m. | Posted: April 26, 9:33 p.m.
Hours after her police chief announced staff changes, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges overruled Chief Janee Harteau on one of them.
Harteau on Wednesday said she was promoting high-profile inspector Michael Kjos to a deputy chief position — and replacing him with former police officers' union head John Delmonico as leader of the 4th Precinct in north Minneapolis.
The changes were scheduled to take effect in August.
But a response released later by the mayor said Hodges was rescinding Delmonico's promotion.
"At this moment in the life of North Minneapolis, we need another kind of leadership for the next phase of the work that we are doing to build trust and transform relationships between police and community," Hodges said in her statement, issued by a spokesperson shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday. "Therefore, I have informed Chief Harteau that he will not serve as inspector of the Fourth Precinct."
On Thursday, Harteau responded with a statement of her own.
"I am disappointed in Mayor Hodges' decision to reverse my appointment of Lt. John Delmonico," she wrote. "I chose Lt. Delmonico because of his countless, long standing community partnerships and the leadership he has demonstrated in his current role" as nightwatch lieutenant for the 4th Precinct.
"If I must make a new appointment," Harteau added, "I will work to select a person who exudes the same strengths and qualities as Lt. Delmonico, and I will continue to look to him as a leader in this department."
Hodges said in her Wednesday statement said that the chief, whom Hodges appointed to a second term in 2015, had been a good steward of the department. But the move also comes after the U.S. Department of Justice released a report last month critical of the coordination between police and City Hall in the wake of the Jamar Clark shooting in November 2015.
The report on the 18-day demonstration outside the 4th Precinct station — the same station Lt. Delmonico was set to command — said in part:
"The role Chief Harteau played was inconsistent over the course of the occupation, in part because Mayor Hodges led the decision-making and operational processes at different points, which is legally within her authority based on the City Charter. The apparent strained relationship between Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau, and the mayor's unfamiliarity with the implications of the terminology she used when in charge, likely contributed to the inconsistent direction given to MPD personnel and the resulting frustration among officers over poor communication and inconsistent, uncoordinated leadership."
Hodges faces challengers as she seeks a second term. One of her opponents, former Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds, was critical of the mayor in the weeks following the Clark shooting.
It also isn't the first time Hodges and Delmonico have had public differences. As then-president of the police union, Delmonico questioned Hodges' judgment in a TV news story that alleged the mayor was unwittingly repeating gang signs during a get-out-the-vote effort in 2014, an incident that came to be known as "Pointergate."
The two had also traded barbs about the Police Department in public pronouncements earlier that same year. Hodges had called for "drastic steps to be taken to address the culture within MPD." Delmonico called the remarks "personal slaps in the face of every member of the Minneapolis Police Department," in a letter to the Star Tribune.
In her statement about the police promotions, Hodges said she appreciated Delmonico's long service to the city and said she believed he would be an appropriate selection for other leadership roles. But she also acknowledged the unusual nature of her intervention in police personnel decisions.
"I don't make this decision lightly," Hodges said in her statement about the planned police promotions. "I have supported [Chief Harteau's] major personnel decisions. She has been a strong partner with me in advancing the most progressive policing work that any city in America is doing."
The head of the Minneapolis police union on Thursday blasted the mayor's move, saying it would undermine force morale and community trust.
"Mayor Hodges' continual meddling in department affairs only undercuts Chief Harteau's leadership at an important time for Minneapolis," Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said in a statement.