MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau issued a response to Twin Cities Pride’s decision to not allow police officers to march in the festival’s parade on Sunday.
Harteau, who has been the police chief in Minneapolis since 2012, is not only the city’s first female police chief, she is also the city’s first gay police chief.
On Thursday, Harteau sent a letter to the executive director of the festival, Dot Belstler. In it, Harteau wrote she wanted to take time to reflect on the decision before responding, but that she was “beyond disappointed” that Belstler did not reach out to her to discuss it.
Twin Cities Pride announced their decision on police participation on Wednesday, just days after Officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of all charges in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.
Yanez shot and killed Castile last summer during a traffic stop. For several days, residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul gathered in rallies and protests.
“I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal and the message of division not include is hurtful to many of us. Police officers are more than just officers, they are human beings with families who are also part of this community,” Harteau wrote. “The MPD has done much in the way of the community outreach with our LGBT residents and visitors. We adopted the nation’s first transgender policy and have assigned a full-time officer to our Community Engagement Team as a LGBT liaison…it is one reason I was so proud to lead the PRIDE parade as the Grand Marshall three years ago.”
Harteau continued saying that she recognizes that minorities have historically had a hard relationship with law enforcement but believes it is something she and her force are working hard to change.
She also said, that despite the decision, she assures that the officers assigned to work the parade will do all they can to make it safe for everyone involved and watching.
MPD and St. Paul Police Department will also once again have a booth in Loring Park where they will be recruiting during the event.
Harteau finished by asking to meet with Belstler to discuss how they can work together in the future.