1-on-1 with former MPD Chief Janee Harteau

Janee Harteau sat down with Jana Shortal in her first television interview since her resignation. http://kare11.tv/2gIY911

Janee Harteau sat down with Jana Shortal in her first on-camera interview since resigning.

MINNEAPOLIS - In 2012, history was made when her story at the Minneapolis Police Department began its final chapter.

As the first female chief and the first openly gay chief, Janee Harteau knew all eyes were on her.

In the almost five years since, Harteau has had her share of controversy.

Her biggest crises were the police shooting of Jamar Clark and the police shooting of Justine Damond.

Clark's killing set off 18 days of protest and one leadership question: Who was really in charge down there?  Mayor Hodges, or Chief Harteau?

“There were things that I did get to make decisions over, but there were a lot of conversations, agreements made without me,” Harteau said.

People noticed, and so did the Department of Justice.

In its report to the city about how the precinct occupation was handled, it noted the lack of communication between the mayor and the chief as an issue.

Time went on and a few other disagreements between two leaders found their way into the headlines, but nothing like what would happen on July 15.

Justine Damond was shot and killed by Minneapolis Officer Mohamed Noor. She was unarmed.

Harteau had left that day for a backpacking trip in Colorado.

She didn’t come back to address the issue for five days.

The big question was, why?

“It’s one of those questions where you can only make decisions based on what you know,” Harteau told KARE 11.

“I was in a remote area of Colorado and I was not watching TV. There is this assumption that I was sitting somewhere and fully cognizant of the concern and outcry in the city and that wasn't the case,” she went on to say.

But isn’t it her responsibility to know?

“I agree that it's always my responsibility, I am always the chief you are never off duty, but the reality of it is when you are not somewhere you rely on people to inform you and to paint the picture for you of what was transpiring," she said. "I could only operate on what I knew and I got back Wednesday.”

When asked if Mayor Hodges ever ordered her to come back, as the situation was very public for the police and city, Harteau said Hodges did not.

By the time Harteau returned, things had gotten to a point where her role as chief was being questioned.

She came home on Wednesday and by Friday morning was summoned to the Mayor’s office and given her options.

“I could resign or it would be process for termination," she said. "It was in the best interest (to resign), I think. I did not want this to be about me,” Harteau said.

But there would be one last oddity in Harteau's departure.

Her separation agreement from the city has a non-disparagement clause saying Harteau can't publicly say anything bad about Hodges, and vice versa.

Harteau said she never asked for that clause to be included and when asked why it’s in there, said that was not her question to answer.

Mayor Hodges said she cannot comment on it.

The City Attorney, Susan Segal, says the information is privileged and she cannot comment either.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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