Minneapolis Council Members Call for Change in Police Department Leadership

Police Chief Janee Harteau with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges Photo: KSTP/File
Police Chief Janee Harteau with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges

July 21, 2017 05:16 PM

Members of the Minneapolis City Council called for changes in the city's police department in the wake of the fatal shooting of 40-year-old Justine Damond by an officer last Saturday in south Minneapolis.

Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents Ward 3 and is himself a candidate for mayor this year, said those changes should start from the top down, calling for Police Chief Janeé Harteau to be replaced.


"We need new leadership," Frey said at Friday's city council meeting. "We need a new chief."

RELATED: Minneapolis Police Chief Says Damond 'Didn't Have to Die'

Harteau herself had been out of town when the shooting's occurred on previously-scheduled time off. She said she was backpacking in the mountains and the remoteness of her location made it more difficult to get back. Her first public comments on the incident came Thursday.

Frey also condemned the fact that, despite department policy, the officers involved in Saturday's incident did not have their body cameras rolling.

RELATED: Women's Rights Advocates Question Police Response to Damond's 911 Calls

"If that body camera is not turned and an incident happens, we can create a rebuttable presumption of misconduct," Frey said, "and at the state legislature we can create a rebuttable presumption of illegality."

During an interview Friday, Frey was asked why he didn't call for the changes in leadership after previous officer involved shootings.

"That would have been fair, too," Frey said. "And this has been a collection of incidents that have happened over time."

Council Member Linea Palmisano said Damond was a constituent of hers in Ward 13.

RELATED: Community Gathers to Honor the Life of Justine Damond

She also called for changes in the department, though she did not specifically mention Harteau.

"So where do we go from here," she asked. "I think we need to fundamentally change the way police operate in our city. And if that means a change in police leadership or management, then so be it. Because we have a systemic problem."

Council members Andrew Johnson and Lisa Bender echoed Palmisano and Frey's call for new leadership in the department.

Mayor Betsy Hodges office declined to comment on the issue.


Frank Rajkowski and Brandi Powell

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