What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to suzanne.ziegler@startribune.com.

Chief Harteau calls for dialogue following racial incidents

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: August 2, 2013 - 3:16 PM

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau on Friday afternoon said she would begin a new "dialogue" with cultural and faith leaders to rebuild trust with the public after two high profile racial incidents, one of which she said left her appalled.

She also pledged to work with city Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel and the soon-to-be-formed Police Conduct Oversight Commission to build stronger connections between the police department and the community.

The announcement came hours after the Star Tribune printed a story about three white Minneapolis police officers getting cited for disorderly conduct, fifth degree assault and fourth degree damage to property in Apple Valley last fall after they got into a fight while off duty with a group of four black men.

It was the second story in a week to allege violence and racial slurs by off duty Minneapolis police officers. A June 29 incident in Green Bay, Wis., lead to the suspension of Minneapolis officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell.

Harteau was not available for an interview with the newpaper on Friday, but said she would meet for a face-to-face interview on Monday afternoon. The full text of her statement is below.

"I made it clear when I accepted the role of Police Chief that building a strong culture of respect and community partnership in this department was Priority One. Like the rest of the community, I was appalled by the Green Bay video footage shown on local news stations. Countless members of this department have also expressed their outrage and anger to me. While state law does not allow me to comment on the specifics of personnel matters, I know that any police misconduct does major damage to the progress we have made to build public trust. Unfortunately, it also overshadows the great work that is done by the members of this department daily. The bottom line is that there is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind within the MPD. It will not be tolerated, period. You can trust that I will ensure all incidents are investigated completely and when misconduct is found my response will be decisive.

Working with Velma Korbel, Minneapolis’ Civil Rights Director, I will be engaging cultural and faith leaders to come together in the coming weeks and begin a dialogue on how we can move forward to rebuild trust with all Minneapolis communities. In addition, our new Police Conduct Oversight Commission will be appointed and working by September. My intention is to – again with Director Korbel – utilize that group of community members as a sounding board for ideas about how to build stronger connections and understanding between the MPD and the community.”

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