Janeé Harteau is one step closer to returning as Minneapolis’ police chief.
After the public-comment period was extended to accommodate residents who didn’t get a chance to speak at last week’s hearing, a City Council committee embraced Harteau’s reappointment Wednesday to a second three-year term as the city’s top law enforcement officer.
Also approved were the reappointment of the city’s fire chief, John Fruetel, and that of Velma Korbel, head of the Department of Civil Rights. The Committee of the Whole’s recommendations now go to the full council for approval on Friday, but that is considered a formality.
Just like last week, Harteau’s supporters outnumbered opponents 2-to-1 among the two dozen or so speakers who turned out for the Wednesday morning hearing.
Chuck Turchick, a longtime Minneapolis police observer and critic, said that Harteau, more so than some of her predecessors, has been receptive to new ideas about improving the department.
“I think there is an openness that is rare, not only among police chiefs, but among public officials,” he told the committee.
Similar praise came from Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said Harteau deserves credit for a proactive approach to policing befitting a “21st-century police chief” and said the chief was working toward greater transparency and accountability.
Others were less effusive.
“I wonder how that’s possible if she demonizes the people that she polices,” said schoolteacher Yolanda Hare. Hare said she believes Harteau condoned aggressive police tactics against some demonstrators in the wake of the fatal police-involved shooting of Jamar Clark. One speaker said he didn’t necessarily support Harteau’s reappointment, but was doubtful the council could find a “suitable replacement,” while several others contended that she had done little to stem a tide of violent crime in the city.
Last week, Hodges and Harteau called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the city’s response to the recent 18-day occupation outside the police department’s Fourth Precinct station following Clark’s killing. On Wednesday, state law enforcement officials announced that they had concluded their investigation into the shooting and were turning over their findings to the county attorney’s office for review.
The Rev. Charles Graham of Macedonia Baptist Church praised Harteau for her open-door policy and her commitment to building stronger relations with the community.
“I see her changing the culture of the police department from within,” Graham said. “The only way a police department can work in our city is if we stop thinking of the city as ours and yours.”