Barring a surprise, on Friday the Minneapolis City Council is expected to confirm veteran cop Janeé Harteau as the city's new police chief. A protégée of former chief Tim Dolan, Harteau would become the first woman to head the department.
After 25 years with the force, Harteau appears to be a good fit for the top job and is well-positioned to take on the department's stiffest challenges.
The 48-year-old Harteau, who is one-sixteenth Chippewa and a registered member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe, grew up in Duluth. She and her domestic partner, a sergeant in the department, have been together for 24 years and are raising a 13-year-old daughter.
On the job, Harteau has a reputation for being tough but fair, and for being upfront about her expectations. With her personal and professional background, she has the potential to bring an important combination of skills and sensitivities to a police force that has had problems with community and internal relations -- including numerous lawsuits and settlements for excessive force and discrimination.
In fact, Harteau and her partner filed a successful sexual harassment and discrimination complaint against the department in 1996 after they were mistreated by fellow officers.
During an interview with Star Tribune Editorial Board members this week, Harteau acknowledged that cultural problems persist in the department, and she pledged to address them with training and discipline.
As a veteran insider, Harteau will have to demonstrate that she can make tough disciplinary and staffing decisions that may upset her former coworkers. She said a new commander will head a training division to make sure officers have the background needed to meet her expectations for "commitment, integrity and transparency.''
The department's ranks are aging -- nearly two-thirds of the force is older than 40 -- meaning that a good number of retirements are on the horizon. Harteau refers to those expected hiring opportunities as a chance to change the culture of the force while building "MPD 2.0.'' She said she'll focus on recruiting the best and brightest people, training them well, and encouraging them to "get out of the squads'' and have more interaction with citizens before problems occur.
Rybak said Harteau is a good fit for the chief's job because of her experience working "upstream'' on crime prevention. She's worked with youth violence prevention groups and wants to focus on broader public-safety issues by working in partnerships with schools, social-service agencies and others. Harteau said gun violence, human trafficking and "micro hot spots'' of crime are top concerns for the department today.
As a former downtown precinct leader, Harteau also knows how important it is to ensure the safety of the city's busiest business neighborhood.
Despite the myriad demands on the force, Harteau said the department has an adequate budget to get the job done. If she's confirmed as expected on Friday, she'll soon be held responsible for those dollars -- and the results.
We wish her well, and hope that all who have a stake in the city's future will do likewise.