Minneapolis Police Department,
Incoming Minneapolis chief, on the stand, criticizes top police brass
- Article by: RANDY FURST
- Star Tribune
- July 20, 2012 - 11:25 PM
Assistant Chief Janée Harteau defended the transfer of two Minneapolis police officers in Hennepin County District Court on Friday, but criticized three top-ranking police officials, one for missteps in the case he built against the two officers and two others for going "rogue."
The comments by Harteau, who is nominated to become Minneapolis' police chief, replacing Tim Dolan when he retires before the end of the year, reflected rifts within the department's top command.
Her testimony, which lasted all day, completed the fifth day of a civil trial before Judge Philip Carruthers, who is hearing allegations in a suit brought by Lt. Andrew Smith and Sgt. Patrick King.
The two officers were relieved of their positions as supervisors within the Violent Offenders Task Force, part of the FBI-led Safe Streets Task Force, on Feb. 14, 2011, and a few hours later were transferred to new posts. They have charged that it was in retaliation for investigating corruption within the department.
Harteau denied Friday that retaliation was a motive, saying it was due to "management practices," including their overtime use. She said the two officers lost the trust of the department's federal partners.
She said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Kayser, who prosecuted Safe Streets cases, did not trust Smith, who "misrepresented facts," and that an FBI official said the two officers were motivated by money, seeking to accumulate as much overtime pay as possible.
Harteau laid out the allegations in a two-page memo to Dolan the day of the transfers.
On Friday, she underwent vigorous cross-examination by Patrick Burns, the attorney for Smith and King. A number of times Burns asked her if her memo's accusations were based on "rumor and innuendo," and several times Harteau responded, "Yes."
She said her memo was developed from interviews she conducted and research summarized in a second memo by Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher.
"In your opinion, did he do due diligence before he put [the allegations] in [his] memo?" Burns asked Harteau.
"I think he could have done more," she said.
"Particularly when he had careers on the line?" Burns asked.
"Yes," Harteau said.
"Is it fair to say he withheld information from you and Chief Dolan?" Burns asked at another point.
"Yes," Harteau said.
She was also asked by Burns about remarks she made in a deposition concerning Deputy Chief Rob Allen and Capt. Amelia Huffman in which she said they'd gone "rogue."
Asked by Assistant City Attorney Tim Skarda what she meant, Harteau said Dolan set the department's direction, but Allen and Huffman "will go a separate course." Allen and Huffman supervised Smith and King. As the department's second-in-command, Harteau oversees all four.
In her memo recommending Smith and King's transfer, Harteau said she had "no faith" in their integrity and accused them of providing "false and misleading information."
But she also chastised Allen and Huffman for their "consistent lack of oversight and/or blind faith" in the two officers.
A prime allegation against King and Smith is that they annually rang up large overtime bills. They each had more than $60,000 in overtime in 2010. Harteau said Smith and King were both supervisors and could have reduced overtime if only one rather than both had worked overtime on a case.
Smith and King insist that Dolan supported their overtime expenses. On Thursday, Burns introduced in evidence an e-mail Huffman wrote to Smith, six days before the transfers. In it, she wrote:
"When I spoke with the chief yesterday, he said he'd like to know how much [task force overtime] there was beyond reimbursed time for the past three years. He said he's comfortable supporting [that overtime] at the same level."
Randy Furst 612-673-4224
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