New Minneapolis police chief tackles 'toughest job in the city'

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2012 - 8:13 PM

Janeé Harteau, who won unanimous approval from the City Council on Friday, says her initial priorities include departmental changes and examining "use of force" policies.

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Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Mayor R.T. Rybak

Janeé Harteau won unanimous approval from the City Council on Friday to become Minneapolis' police chief.

Harteau, who has spent 25 years on the force, takes over from Tim Dolan, who retired in November.

"I want to thank her for her willingness to step forward for what is absolutely the toughest job in the city," Mayor R.T. Rybak said at the council vote Friday. While praising her tenure on the force, Rybak also noted Harteau's 1996 complaint with the Human Rights Department.

"I think it's important to point out that we have a chief who's coming in who at one time had complaints about this department and how it treated women," Rybak said. "And I think that's an important value to be bringing to the table. Because in the top job, that top cop can also see when things aren't going right."

Harteau told the council that "I won't let you down." Midway through her comments, Harteau became emotional while mentioning Tom Decker, the officer from Cold Spring, Minn., who was shot to death Thursday night.

"It's a good day but it's a tough day because we lost one of our own," Harteau said.

In a news conference after the vote, Harteau said some of her first priorities involve structural and personnel changes in the department. She also intends to review the department's "use of force" policies, which detail the levels and types of force officers can use in various situations.

As for the precedent of having a female, openly gay police chief, Harteau said it wasn't personally significant.

"For others it might be," Harteau said. "And if I can be a role model ... I want people to see that you can achieve things despite some obstacles in your way. I stand on my merits on how I got here. I've been given tremendous opportunity."

She's scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday in the City Hall Rotunda.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732; Twitter: @StribRoper

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