MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has responded to criticism after she did not attend a neighborhood meeting about police accountability Thursday night.

“I made a very difficult but necessary decision to cancel an appearance at a ‘community listening session,'” Harteau said in a statement. “‘ I want to be clear that I am more than interested in having this conversation, and many others, provided they are conducted in safe and productive environments.”

More than 200 people filled Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis. The event was organized after the arrest of community activist Al Flowers in July.

On Thursday, Harteau said someone she trusts told her there was the potential for physical violence against police.

“When I hear things about physical violence or being physical at all, then public safety’s our number-one goal,” Harteau said. “And I can’t in good conscience attend something that I feel has the potential to be physically violent.”

The moderator of Thursday night’s meeting called the chief’s absence “disrespectful.”

On Friday, Harteau said that she is calling a non-scheduled advisory council meeting this Wednesday to search for a way to move forward. She also cited the introduction of 13 community chaplains to serve as liaisons between the police department and the community.

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