Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau was named president of the law enforcement technology company Vitals on Tuesday, with a mission of changing the way police interact with people in crisis.
Harteau, a 30-year law enforcement vet, takes over the reins of the Golden Valley-based company after working 11 months as its chief public safety strategist. Vitals officials say Harteau led the company's expansion to law enforcement agencies around the U.S. The Vitals app is currently being used by 25 departments statewide, with others expected to follow in coming months, company officials said. Harteau will start her new role immediately.
Harteau wrote on Facebook that she was "thrilled" with her new role at a company that was a force for "social good."
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to continue to serve both of those in new and innovative ways," she said in a separate statement.
Harteau was forced to resign last July amid controversy over the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, by then-officer Mohamed Noor, who awaits trial on murder and manslaughter charges. After her departure, Harteau launched a consulting company, Titanium Leadership, through which she said she would continue her work of trying new ways of policing.
The Vitals smartphone app is designed to improve interactions between "first responders and individuals with physical, behavioral, mental, or developmental conditions through the use of signaling beacon and smartphone app technologies," according to the company's website.
It's aimed at groups who have "invisible disabilities" and can't always communicate effectively in potentially dangerous encounters with police, according to company officials. That includes people with autism spectrum disorders, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, other mental health problems, diabetes and seizure disorders.
The app contains data about a person's diagnosis, behavior triggers, medications and caregiver contact information, as well as suggested ways to calm the person. Officers receive an alert when they're within 30-80 feet of someone who has a profile on file.
Vitals CEO Steve Mase praised Harteau for her communication and leadership.
"I've seen firsthand ... the empathy that she has for vulnerable individuals and families," he said in a news release.