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“All I can say is wow,” Police Chief nominee Janeé Harteau said Wednesday of the hearty endorsements she received during a City Council safety meeting.

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Incoming Mpls. police chief praised highly during council hearing

  • Article by: RANDY FURST
  • Star Tribune
  • November 28, 2012 - 8:31 PM

An array of community figures called incoming Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau an empathetic, energetic and committed professional as her nomination moved through the City Council's public safety meeting on Wednesday.

The committee approved Harteau's appointment 6-0, setting up a vote by the full council Friday.

Before the vote, Harteau got vigorous endorsements from downtown business leaders, who said she was responsive to their concerns and frank in her communications with them. Others commented on her rapport with young people.

At a pre-Thanksgiving turkey giveaway at a Cub Foods store on E. Lake Street, youngsters were "giddy" to receive gold badges from Harteau, who managed to upstage some Vikings players, said Ed Anderson, store director.

Russom Solomon, chair of the West Bank safety committee, spoke of how helpful Harteau had been to the neighborhood.

"It's a great day for Minneapolis, it's a great day for the police department, it is great day for the advancement of women, for immigrants and people of color," he said.

Heather Huseby, executive director of Youth Link, a program for homeless youths, said Harteau, who is on the group's board, has a natural ability to connect with the youngsters. They look beyond her uniform and "see a heart," Huseby said.

"Janeé is truly a foot soldier for change," Huseby said. "She wants to change the way the community works with our youth, and she's helped us to do that."

All six council members on the committee heaped on more praise. "Are we lucky or what?" began Council Member Diane Hofstede.

Council President Barb Johnson "wholeheartedly endorsed" Harteau, noting the courage it took for the women pioneers who joined the police department years ago.

But she said that, despite the accolades, the atmosphere can change and inevitably "trouble will come." Those crises will test Harteau, Johnson said.

Earlier in the day, at the council's executive committee meeting, Harteau proposed creating six new commander positions, outside the union, eliminating six captain positions that are union jobs.

She said it will give her greater flexibility in creating a team to supervise separate divisions in the department, and help in labor negotiations.

Timothy Giles, director of employee services, said that the Minneapolis Police Federation, the police union, was "not challenging the removal of the work and I will be coming back to the executive committee early in January with a ratified tentative agreement."

After Wednesday's vote, Harteau appeared somewhat stunned by the support.

"All I can say is wow. Wow is what comes to mind," she told reporters, but added that "I didn't get here alone," saying the comments underscored the importance of partnerships between police and community.

Nominated last spring by Mayor R.T. Rybak, Harteau is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday in the City Hall Rotunda.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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