MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Monday, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau introduced President Barack Obama. But on Tuesday, the chief said she was doing something more important — kicking off a two-day training session to improve the way officers do their jobs.
While speaking in Minneapolis, Obama said that he came here because the city has reduced the number of young people injured by guns by 40 percent.
Harteau says she wants to see similar improvements in the way the department handles every single police call. The 25-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department says she wants every officer to consider this as they go on every call.
“The service and the guiding principle that I will be asking of every officer and every encounter is: Did my actions reflect how I would want a family member to be treated? It’s a simple question, but one we should always answer yes to,” Harteau said.
In 2010, there were 271 complaints against the Minneapolis Police Department. While that number seems high, it does represents a drop of 16 percent from the year before.
Alongside her newly appointed leadership team, Harteau stressed Tuesday that city’s police officers aren’t doing a bad job, but that they could do a better one.
The department’s top priority, as it tries to improve officer accountability and performance, is hiring new officers.
“Sixty-four percent of our department is over the age of 40, so we have a lot of hiring and recruiting opportunities. We need to make sure we do that right,” she said.
Half of Minneapolis police officers took the training Tuesday. The other half will take it Wednesday. All days off were canceled so every officer could attend, and so that the streets can still be patrolled.
The training is the first department-wide training session since 1997. And the chief played down her role as the first female Minneapolis police chief.
“I do think men and women approach things differently, so it’s good to have those two sides,” she said. “There is not right way or wrong way, but it’s just different.”
Harteau says she does not know of any other department in the country offering training sessions focusing on accountability and job performance. The department has 840 officers.