Mpls Police Chief opens up about ups and downs of first 6 months on the job

9:54 PM, Jun 13, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- When 26-year-Minneapolis Police veteran Janee Harteau took the oath as chief last December she could not have known where that badge would take her.

But within eight weeks on the job she was front and center at a child abduction and later out at community meetings asking for the public's trust saying time and again that transparency would be tantamount in the department on her watch.

"I put it out there, transparency, I waved the flag and I knew I would be judged on that," Harteau said in an exclusive television interview Thursday afternoon.

She wouldn't know how harshly that judgment would come.

On May 10th 22-year-old Terrance Franklin, a burglary suspect, was killed by Minneapolis police after he led them on a foot chase ending in a house in Uptown.

Two Minneapolis police officers were also shot during the apprehension, allegedly at the hands of Franklin before he was fatally wounded.

Five days later Harteau, she said in an effort to be transparent, held a press conference.

She was unable, she said to give the details of the shooting investigation and the story then became that she was not at all the transparent chief she claimed to be.

"It did discourage me a little bit to think that regardless of my intent and how much I try what is going to be reported is what people choose to be newsworthy," Harteau said.

What she can say about the Franklin investigation is this.

"I am willing to and desire to share as much as I can but I want people to understand the times that I can't is only because I can't. It is not because I choose not to," Harteau said.

"If I speak out of turn in any way and the facts come out and I'm a little bit off or a little wrong then it will be I changed the story or I changed the investigation I changed the evidence that is why I must remain neutral," she went on to explain.

But perhaps even more disconcerting to Chief Harteau is what happened on May 30th.

On that date attorney Michael Padden, hired by Terrance Franklin's family, held a press conference and released a cell phone video taken on the day of the shootings where Padden claims Minneapolis officers on the scene yelled the N word while in pursuit of Franklin.

"No police officer anywhere should be using racial slurs," Padden said that day.

The chief said his accusation is flat out false and dangerous.

"I wanted people to understand that didn't happen and to incite that kind of rage un-necessarily is truly unfair and the blood is on Mr. Padden's hands if anything were to happen," Harteau said.

In fact Harteau went further saying if that kind of racist culture was as pervasive in the department as Padden claimed she would no longer be on watch.

"If we had a racist police department I wouldn't be sitting here, there is no way I would be here. I wouldn't lead that I wouldn't be a part of it and I would have left a long time ago," Harteau said.

The events of May 10th, the officers shot, the killing of Franklin, the death of a motorcyclist who collided with a Minneapolis squad responding to the call, the accusations of false transparency and finally the cry of racism in the department led some to call for Harteau to step down.

She heard that too.

"I take setbacks and turn them into a comeback, that's all it is, it's a bump along the way it makes me stronger and makes me know that I have to fight even harder to do the right thing."

"So you are not going to resign?" reporter Jana Shortal asked to which Harteau said; "Absolutely not, I'm not leaving."

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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