MINNEAPOLIS - On Friday, Police Chief Janee Harteau was confirmed in her new post as Minneapolis' first female police chief.
The official ceremony came just hours after the news of slain Cold Spring officer Tom Decker had been killed in the line of duty. Harteau said the news made the day bittersweet.
"It is a good day, but it is a tough day," Harteau tearfully told the Minneapolis City Council. "We lost one of our own. So, that weighs on my heart, but I do thank you."
The 24-year veteran officer is also the first openly gay Minneapolis Police Chief. She and partner, Holly, who is also a police officer, are parents to a 13-year-old daughter.
The council voted 11-0 to confirm Harteau after council members and Mayor R.T. Rybak gushed praised for the new chief.
"You have my rock solid support, and I am thrilled that we can take this action today," Rybak told Harteau.
"I do not recall any other nomination being so strongly supported with so little dissent," marveled council member Don Samuels. "One of the things that I am grateful for is that we are in a city that could nurture someone of this quality and then identify them as a leader for the department. That is an incredible statement for who we are and what we have become."
Council member Robert Lilligren added, "As an out, gay person in a high profile position, I appreciate that part of your character as well."
In a meeting with reporters after the council special meeting, Harteau downplayed the significance of her selection.
"I can be a role model. I want people to see that you can achieve things despite some obstacles in your way. I stand on my merits on how I got here," said Harteau, "I have been given a tremendous opportunity. I appreciate Chief (Tim) Dolan seeing in me my talents and abilities and putting those things aside, not the gender, not sexual orientation, but who I am as a person and how I get things done."
Harteau brings a full resume of policing experience to the new job. She has walked a beat, worked with community groups, commanded a precinct (1st) and served as a deputy chief. She was serving in that capacity when outgoing Dolan tapped her as his successor. She will fill out Dolan's term through December, and then begin a new 3-year term of her own on Jan. 1.
Harteau pointed to changes in the Department.
"Over the next couple of months, really looking at structural changes, a few personnel changes, really getting the right people in the right places to move forward what, I think, is the real, incredible plan for the city of Minneapolis," she said. "As I put the team together, what I would like to do is look at existing policies and I have highlighted some key areas that I would like to look at, use of force being one of them."
Harteau indicated she would create a "Training and Professional Development" division within the existing police department budget. She said it will be the "foundation of the Police Department."
The formal swearing-in ceremony is to take place on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in the City Hall rotunda.
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