MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has apologized for the behavior of some of her police officers, and she hopes to use the alleged incidents of racial bias as a catalyst for change.
“I think it’s a temporary setback, but I think it’s a turning point,” she said.
Five off-duty Minneapolis Police officers have been accused of making racial taunts and assaulting black men. Harteau broke her silence on Monday, talking about the incidents in Green Bay, Wis., and Apple Valley.
“I was just mortified, and thought to myself: This is not who we are,” she said.
Moreover, the chief is promising decisive action after the investigations into the incidents are complete.
The officers involved could be fired, she said.
Harteau added that she needs the help of the silent majority in the department. She wants the officers who see and hear racial bias and misconduct to speak up. She outlined her plan to deal with officers who break the law enforcement code of ethics and how she hopes to regain the trust of the community.
“I’m calling on every member of this police department, the silent majority we have,” Harteau said. “I’m asking them to be silent no more.”
The chief has put in place a new Police Conduct Oversight Commission – one full of cultural and community leaders. She hopes it will help her pinpoint issues they feel erode trust and come up with solutions.
“We’re all going to come together — because we are all hurting — and find a way to move forward,” Harteau said.
She wants more than just talk about diversity and sensitivity training. She wants input from the police union and community leaders about hiring practices. She also wants more people engaged in deciding who polices their communities and how they do it.
Lt. John Delmonico, police union president, says he doesn’t believe Minneapolis Police officers have a problem, but he is asking for a seat at the table with the chief and the community to see if changes need to be made.
“We don’t condone racism and bigot behavior. That’s unprofessional in our profession. We’re above that,” Lt. Delmonico said.