Harteau meets with advisory council over video of off-duty slurs - KMSP-TV

Harteau meets with advisory council over officers' off-duty slurs

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Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau got an earful from community members concerned about off-duty officers using racial slurs on Wednesday during a meeting on Wednesday afternoon. 

"I need them, this department needs them, and the city of Minneapolis needs them," Harteau said.

Harteau has been meeting of the council regularly since January, and the gatherings are not usually publicized or open to members of the media; however, the community leaders who participated gave voice to a wide range of concerns in the two hours they spent with Harteau.

"The dialogue was very transparent and candid," reflected Bishop Richard Howell, of Shiloh Temple International Ministries.

The group is comprised of community, business, residential and faith leaders, and they all came together to discuss two videos, which show off-duty Minneapolis police officers using racial epithets amid altercations with African Americans, during Wednesday's gathering.

All personnel from the Minneapolis Police Department with the rank of commander and higher, along with other city leaders, also attended. Yet some community members who were not invited were upset at the exclusion of the general public and the press.

Ronald Edwards, former co-chair of the Police Relations Council, was among the discontented. He tried to attend the meeting but was turned away.

"I presided over the police department as a federal mediator for five years -- over the fire department for 21 years," he said. "I've been here. I've traveled this highway, I know what this is all about, and I know all the politics. What she should do is post the enemies list right here on this door -- 'You black people on this list cannot come in.'"

Edwards also said he believes the decision to close the meeting to the public contradicts Harteau's stated commitment to transparency.

Harteau disagreed, saying the intention was to have a dialogue.

"We will report out publicly what we're doing -- the outcomes, our process," she said. "That's the part of transparency we'll share. I cannot have this be anything other than people who are committed to getting real work done. This is not a Band-Aid."

Furthermore, Harteau said the group is not closed off to new additions.

"I would not exclude anybody," she said. "If these community leaders behind me felt we needed to add somebody to the list for real change, then they're welcome to add to that list."

Members of the council also seemed open to the suggestion, but they echoed Harteau's sentiment that anyone included must be willing to come to the table in earnest.

"We're not trying to exclude anybody," VJ Smith, of MADDADS, told FOX 9 News. "On the other hand, what we are trying to do is have a serious dialogue."

As far as action going forward, Harteau told FOX 9 News an extension of the Citizens Advisory Council will be the beginning. Four subcommittees have been developed to address community concerns. They will focus on:

- Community engagement
- Hiring and recruiting
- Training
- Accountability

Harteau also told FOX 9 News a clear action plan from the department addressing the racially-charged incidents can be expected by the third week of September.


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