Harteau takes center stage

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 15, 2012 - 5:16 PM

Minneapolis police-chief-to-be is months away from taking the department reins but feels "enormous responsibility" at nomination.


Janeé Harteau is flanked by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan Thursday as Rybak formally announced her nomination to be the next chief.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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It's still months away, but the eventual replacement of outgoing Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan with his No. 2, Assistant Chief Janeé Harteau, took on the feel of a done deal Thursday at a news conference meant to formally announce her nomination.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said during the meeting with journalists at City Hall that he's privately spoken to City Council members and found broad support for Harteau. He nominated her earlier this week, but the council's approval will be necessary when Dolan steps down at the end of this year.

Harteau, who would become the first woman to lead the department, said she's received supportive e-mails and phone calls from across the country.

"I'm actually overwhelmed with all of the attention I've gotten. ... People are very much cheering for me, cheering for the police department," she said. "I feel a little bit of an enormous responsibility to be successful, but I know I didn't get here alone. I got here, frankly, on the shoulders of many women and pioneers before me."

Harteau named two women as "tremendous mentors" -- former Assistant Chief Sharon Lubinski, now U.S. Marshal for the District of Minnesota, and Third Precinct Inspector Lucy Gerold, who was a finalist for the chief's position when Dolan was hired.

In brief comments to reporters, Harteau spoke generally about what she'd like to see as chief, but didn't go into specifics. Rybak said at the outset of the news conference that it would be a brief introduction.

She said she's "very much about collaborative partnerships," that she wants to build on the use of technology, and to reach out to the community through nontraditional means of communication, including the department's new YouTube channel.

"Obviously in a big police department, in a big city, it's really hard to talk to people one on one on a frequent basis, so how do we do that? Technology is really helping in that," she said.

Harteau, who was born in Grand Rapids, Minn., and grew up in Duluth, said she became a cop because she saw it as community service. "I want people to remember I was here for a reason, and that I did contribute in some form."

Some other comments:

• "I'm very honest and transparent and will always tell you what I can. I'm just beginning to understand what that will mean. As Chief Dolan will tell you, you really don't know until you're there."

• "We've made some really good progress on crime, as long as we have an unsolved case like Terrell Mayes, our work is not done. Downtown is certainly a focus. It always will be. The crime numbers are low compared to how many folks are downtown, but every crime is important to address."

• "One of our concerns today and will probably be then [at the end of the year] is gun violence. Where are the guns coming from? How is it that young kids are getting guns? That is a primary focus for us."

• On not being the stereotypical police chief, described by a reporter as a gray-haired veteran: "The advantage is that I get to color my hair," she said. "Don't let the non-gray on the outside fool you."

• Speaking about turmoil regarding the Civilian Police Review Authority, being disbanded amid board member complaints that the police department never took its work seriously: "I see the right people at the table to have the conversations about how to best move forward and I think that there will be a fairly good process moving forward."

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747


Age: 47 years old, born in Grand Rapids.

Heritage: French Canadian and American Indian.

Family: Daughter, 13, and a domestic partner of 24 years.

Interests: Played guitar and sang in band to help pay tuition while getting law enforcement degree from Hibbing Community College.

Work: Became a Minneapolis patrol officer in 1987.

Extras: Wrote two books, "A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety," and "A Senior's Guide to Personal Safety," with Minneapolis police Sgt. Holly Keegel.

Trains law enforcement leaders for Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety; teaches at St. Mary's University of Minnesota.


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