Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau did a series of local media interviews Monday, fielding questions from reporters about racism in the department.
The questions stem from two incidents. One was in late June, when off-duty white MPD officers in Green Bay got into a fight with several black men, and a video shows the Minneapolis officers using racial slurs and disparaging Harteau and the Green Bay department. Another incident occurred last year, when three Minneapolis officers were involved in an altercation with several black patrons outside an Apple Valley bar, and a racial slur was used.
Harteau declined to answer specific questions about the cases. But she talked generally about whether there is a culture of racism in the department.
Harteau told FOX she thinks there may be a few officers with racist views, but there is not systemic racism. "If I thought this was widespread, I'd walk away," she told FOX. "I wouldn't be a part of it." Harteau also told FOX that she believes using racial epithets while off the job can be considered grounds for firing.
Harteau told KARE 11 that she was genuinely shocked by the language used by the two MPD officers in Green Bay.
"The blatant over and over racial slurs and statements in Green Bay shocked me," Harteau told KARE. "They shocked me because I did not believe for a minute that any member of my officers would talk like that."
The chief, still in her first year in the department's top job, told the Star Tribune that she plans to examine the department’s training and hiring practices. She told the newspaper she aims to create a “culture of accountability” in the department.
Harteau told MPR she intends to meet on Wednesday with religious and cultural leaders, along with members of the police union, to begin rebuilding trust between the department and the community it serves.
"People get motivated when they're angry, when they're frustrated, when they say enough is enough – and whether it be internally at this department or externally in the community, people have had enough," Harteau told MPR. "It's high time that we start to move this department in the right direction."