Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said Friday she has full confidence in police Chief Janeé Harteau despite nagging criticism in the community about the chief's performance.

The mayor dismissed complaints that Harteau pulled out of a community listening session last week. Hodges pointed to the chief's willingness to meet and talk with residents in high-crime areas.

Any reason Harteau would have given for pulling out "would have been understandably upsetting to the community," Hodges said in an interview Friday. "The way people handle the fact that they're upset I think varies depending on who that chief is."

Harteau said at the time that she pulled out after seeing a couple threats on social media, which she feared could have caused the event to turn chaotic or even violent. Critics point out that police have not been able to produce credible evidence of a threat.

The mayor did say that the chief could have done a better job explaining why she pulled out of the meeting at the last minute. It was the first time the mayor has publicly acknowledged a misstep by the chief, who has held the job for nearly two years.

In the mayor's latest blog post, she said that the chief sent her a message of apology.

"When I described my decision not to attend last week's listening session, I have learned some people were offended by my comments, and I apologize for them," Harteau told the mayor.

In a bid to move forward, city and police officials on Friday announced a series of public forums to discuss the department's plans to reduce violence and address residents' concerns. Harteau also unveiled "Chat With the Chief," a monthly chance for residents to meet with the chief in person.

Harteau has faced mounting criticism for skipping the community meeting, at the same time she is facing lingering questions about her depleted department's ability to quell the latest rise in violent crime. In recent weeks, there has been a spate of shootings and at least three deaths.

"I think being in this role, the criticism is something that I have to endure," Harteau said in an interview Friday. "I do want to be [judged] based on the totality of my record and all the things I do, and community engagement and building public trust has been a priority for me."

Council Member Alondra Cano joined other community leaders who have criticized Harteau lately over what they said was her unwillingness to address community concerns.

The chief, Cano says, told some council members that she was wary of attending the public meeting after learning that "some people might be attacking her officers and somebody may be latching on to her leg."

"There wasn't a threat to begin with. And what's even worse is the accusation that communities of color are somehow violent," said Cano, who helped organize the community forum.

On Friday, a group of community leaders sent a letter to Hodges requesting quarterly updates on such issues as diversity hiring, police misconduct and an external audit of the department.

"In essence, we would like to see MPD be transformed into a department that respects the human dignity of all persons and works to foster positive relationships with the community," the letter read. "We believe that public safety is negatively impacted when residents fear the police department or have lost trust due to a lack of accountability."

The criticism of Harteau comes against a backdrop of proliferating gun violence.

Most of the violence has been attributed to an ongoing gang dispute reaching as far back as the 400 Soundbar shooting earlier this summer, which left nine people injured. Community leaders say that triggered a wave of gang-related violence.

Harteau declined to comment on whether any of the three recent victims were connected to the Soundbar shooting.

Police have not made any arrests in that shooting and have been slow to release any information about the incident, citing an ongoing investigation.

Police have also lost some additional assistance.

An agreement with several agencies including the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the State Patrol to send extra patrols to high-crime areas over the summer expired Sept. 1, leaving the already strapped department further undermanned on some shifts.

Former Chief Tim Dolan, who is now retired, said that much of the criticism heaped on the new chief is unfair.

"They had a rocky start," he said. "I think they've done a lot of outreach since then. They've had a very quiet time here for the last year, as far as any kind of public controversy."

Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany