Police Chief Janee Harteau steps down

Chief Janeé Harteau speaks at a press conference Thursday, with Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo at right.

Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned today at Mayor Betsy Hodges’ request. The mayor nominated Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo as the city’s new Police Chief.

“As far as we have come, I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well,” Hodges said in a statement. “For us to continue to transform policing — and community trust in policing — we need new leadership at MPD.”

Protesters interrupted Hodges’ remarks at a press conference this evening, chanting “Bye bye Betsy” and taking over the microphone.

“We’re not going to be tricked by this effort,” said one protester. “…We understand that Chief Arradondo looks like us, but we understand that he’s not one of us, that he works for a police department that has a history of brutalizing us. … This is just a cosmetic change, and we want institutional change.”

When Hodges returned to the podium later in the evening, she said change would not happen overnight, and said the city has made progress in rolling out body cameras and training officers.

“I hope people agree that there is no magic wand for public safety,” she said.

While she said Minneapolis has done more than any other city in America to transform policing, and gave Harteau “tremendous credit” for that work, she said the resignation follows an overall assessment of her performance.

“The events of the last week have reinforced for me that we need that change, and it’s the right time,” she said.

Harteau said the July 15 officer shooting of Fulton resident Justine Ruszczyk and other recent incidents led her to deeply reflect on the department.

“The recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we’ve developed as a Department,” Harteau said in a statement. “Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the City, I have to put the communities we serve first. I’ve decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be.”

Shortly before her resignation, Harteau said police are not activating body cameras enough. She said she wanted Officer Mohamed Noor to answer questions about the shooting, and said she was concerned about the incident’s impact on the Somali community. Based on available information, she said the shooting went against MPD values, and stressed that it was the judgment of a single individual.

In her 30-year career with the Minneapolis Police Department, Harteau cited career accomplishments including MPD 2.0, a program to improve accountability and professional standards. She’s often repeated the mantra that officers should treat community members like family members.

“My goal with MPD 2.0 was to leave the department better than when I became Chief, and I believe that we have,” she said.

Arradondo joined the MPD in 1989. He has served as a South Minneapolis patrol officer, school resource officer, Northside beat officer, Downtown inspector, internal affairs investigator, property crime investigator, deputy chief and chief of staff. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis and is a graduate of Metropolitan State University, Concordia University, the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Arradondo also oversaw department-wide training in topics like implicit bias, the public’s perception of fairness in policing and historical damage in police-community relationships.

Prior to Harteau’s resignation announcement, some Council Members voiced frustration at a City Council meeting Friday.

Council Member Andrew Johnson said he’s heard from many residents who said they no longer feel safe calling 911.

“We should have greater oversight of the police department,” he said. “Right now it is just the mayor as our only civilian leader overseeing the police department. We literally have more oversight of potholes than we do of police.”

Johnson said he’d support immediately spending about $60,000 for technology that activates body cameras the moment a nearby officer removes a gun from the holster.

Council Member Linea Palmisano said the use of force in policing is too often disproportionate to the actual danger.

“If the current state laws can’t get guilty verdicts when police kill our citizens, we need new laws,” she said in a statement. “When police are using their guns in a destructive manner, we must rethink our use of force policies. Yes. We must revamp our body camera policies and technology. Not just so we have recordings of these incidents, but so the cameras themselves act as a deterrent and can build trust in our community.”

Council Member Jacob Frey said the city needs a new chief, and said it’s time to be angry and take action. He said officials should consider a “rebuttable presumption” of misconduct or illegality if an incident happens and a body camera isn’t turned on.

Frey said the council should also consider the difference between self-defense claims for officers and civilians. Civilians must show a reasonable person would act in self-defense in similar circumstances, he said, while officers must simply profess that fear caused them to act in self-defense.

“How do you rebut a person’s subjective intent without knowing what’s in their head?” he said.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension continues to investigate the July 15 shooting. The BCA said investigators interviewed one witness today. The witness was reportedly biking on West 51st Street immediately before the shooting and stopped at the scene.