Transparency, union relations, and data practices: Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau comments

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In a blog post which I did on November 28th, 2012 I posed several questions to the new Minneapolis Police Chief, Janee Harteau. The Chief after a request by me to answer the questions took the time to do so. I appreciate that and this is her responses.

Explain to the public what transparency means to you?

“First, transparency to me is being candid, honest, approachable, and open to questions. I can accept and expect criticism but I hope to be treated fairly, just as I believe most want to be treated. I will make mistakes, and members of this department will make mistakes. I will do so with the best of intentions and effort, however. I also learn from those mistakes.

I feel the MPD needs to improve and focus more on effective communications, both internally and externally so that people have what they need to achieve their desired results and be most effective. Some of those messages and conversations will come from me, others will and should come from one of the many talented professionals we have in this department.”

Can you define what the relationship between you and the Minneapolis Police Union should be?

“As far as the police union, I believe the union should have a seat at the table. I have and will continue to work with them to ensure that we can accomplish what we need, while being cognizant of union rules and contracts. We have not and will not always agree, but we do need to find ways to work together. The City of Minneapolis and the members of this department deserve that.”

Are you familiar with the basics and nuances of the Data Practices Act as it applies to a law enforcement agency?

“And yes, I do understand the Data Practices Act and seek advice from my attorney’s when a question arises. I don’t believe in purposely violating or fringing on anyone’s rights. What kind of police officer or police chief would I be if I did?? I appreciate your thoughts on training. This is certainly an area of focus for me.”

Chief Harteau did not answer one question in the email response which was the following:

Do you support collecting information on innocent law abiding Americans?

In the latter part of my post I also made comments about databases and “when Minneapolis Police use the many databases the cops have access to, they follow the law. What will the training for that and the enforcement be?” It seems the Chief realizes that the public wants accountability and transparency when it comes to Minneapolis Police using databases. She indicates it’s a focus. More than likely because of big dollar payout, but also because she realizes that the public will not tolerate abuses of Driver Vehicle Service databases or any of the other databases MPD has access to. But proof is in the pudding. It seems she’s willing to work with the public on this matter.

I indicated to the Chief I will print her response in whole. Once again I thank Chief Harteau. Here is a copy of email which I received on January 2, 2013.

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Rich,

I understand you have some questions of me. First, thank you for asking and not just assuming my answers. I am incredibly busy but wanted to answer what I could in the time I have today.

First, transparency to me is being candid, honest, approachable, and open to questions. I can accept and expect criticism but I hope to be treated fairly, just as I believe most want to be treated. I will make mistakes, and members of this department will make mistakes. I will do so with the best of intentions and effort, however. I also learn from those mistakes.

I feel the MPD needs to improve and focus more on effective communications, both internally and externally so that people have what they need to achieve their desired results and be most effective. Some of those messages and conversations will come from me, others will and should come from one of the many talented professionals we have in this department.

As far as the police union, I believe the union should have a seat at the table. I have and will continue to work with them to ensure that we can accomplish what we need, while being cognizant of union rules and contracts. We have not and will not always agree, but we do need to find ways to work together. The City of Minneapolis and the members of this department deserve that.

And yes, I do understand the Data Practices Act and seek advice from my attorney’s when a question arises. I don’t believe in purposely violating or fringing on anyone’s rights. What kind of police officer or police chief would I be if I did?? I appreciate your thoughts on training. This is certainly an area of focus for me.

I hope you find my responses insightful.

Janeé Harteau | Chief of Police
Minneapolis Police Department | 350 S Fifth Street | Room 130
Minneapolis, MN 55415 | 612.673.5643 office| 612.673.2613 fax
Leadership is a Process…NOT a Position
See it. Own it. Solve it. Do it………Change the Culture–Change the Game(The Oz Principle)