Mpls. Police Chief Talks about Officer Firing Decision, Activist Arrest

Updated: 07/29/2014 7:21 AM
Created: 07/28/2014 8:02 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

Two incidents involving Minneapolis police officers that have both done damage to the public's image of the department: One has finally ended, while the other may be just beginning.

On Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS sat down with Chief Janeé Harteau and asked her what she's doing to rebuild the relationship between her department and the community.

The first incident happened in June 2013 when two Minneapolis police officers, Brian Thole and Shawn Powell, were caught on dash cam video in Green Bay making racially insensitive and derogatory comments, including one about their own police chief's sexual orientation.

The second incident happened this weekend -- the arrest, and injury, of a prominent community activist.

"It goes against our core values. It's not who we are as Minneapolis police officers," Harteau said about the two officers' conduct in the Green Bay incident.

Harteau fired both officers in December. They appealed, but last week, a city commission upheld their firings.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked Harteau how her department had changed in the year since the incident came to light.

"We continue to do our work, and I would say we've changed in the sense that we've had to work a little harder to rebuild public trust," Harteau replied.

When asked about the fact that some Minneapolis residents believe some officers currently on the force behave the way that Thole and Powell did in Green Bay, Harteau replied, "My message would be that this is not tolerated, and if I learn of this and we can prove that that's occurring, I would handle it accordingly."

Harteau also spoke about the weekend arrest of Al Flowers, a prominent activist who was accused of obstruction and assault. Flowers was injured, and claims he was the one who was assaulted when officers tried to serve a warrant for his daughter's arrest.

"We are handling the investigation as we always do. We are ensuring we are incredibly thorough. This is not about speediness. This is about seeking truth and accuracy," Harteau said.

When asked whether she initially believes her officers acted appropriately, Harteau replied, "I have no cause for concern at this point."

Harteau declined to comment on the specifics of the Flowers case. But a law enforcement source tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Flowers blocked the officers from entering, that officers asked Flowers to step aside several times, and that Flowers initiated the physical alteration.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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