Minneapolis police commander sues chief Harteau over demotion


A former high-ranking official in the Minneapolis Police Department is suing Chief Janeé Harteau, claiming she demoted him because he ran for Hennepin County sheriff in the November 2014 election, the Star Tribune reports.

Former deputy chief of patrol Eddie Frizell claims he was demoted to the rank of lieutenant after he returned from a six-month leave of absence to campaign for sheriff. He lost the election to incumbent Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Frizell (pictured below) is now assigned to the Domestic Assault Unit, according to the lawsuit.

According to the Star Tribune, Frizell's lawsuit claims he suffered “loss of reputation, humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience (and) mental and emotional anguish" as a result of the demotion.

He is asking for a return to his previous rank and responsibilities as well as monetary damages.

As part of a leadership shakeup announced in mid-November 2014, Harteau said Frizell was being moved from his position as deputy chief to a lesser post as operations and administration commander, which oversees recruitment and hiring.

But Frizell complained about the demotion in an interview with the Star Tribune, saying he was dismayed and "didn't deserve this."

Shortly afterward, the suit alleges, Harteau rescinded that offer and instead demoted Frizell to lieutenant in retaliation for speaking to the reporter.

Frizell is also a longtime member of the Minnesota Army National Guard, and the suit claims that because of his status as a veteran he was entitled to a hearing before he was reassigned, ABC6 News reports.

It was just two years ago that Harteau promoted Frizell in a ceremony at Augsburg College, Frizell's alma mater.

In his new assignment, Frizell's salary has been reduced from $123,000 to $106,500, he "supervises four officers, has a tiny office, and is now required to report to a formerly subordinate officer," the lawsuit claims.

Harteau issued a statement in response to the lawsuit on the police department's Facebook page, saying her decisions are based on what she believes will improve the police department's performance.

"I have made a number of organizational changes and will continue to make adjustments based on what is needed at that time in a particular area. I fully understand that not everyone will agree with the decisions I make, however, all of my decisions are grounded in our core values of commitment, integrity and transparency.” 

This isn't the first time Harteau's staff changes have been challenged in court. Five former captains in the police department filed suit last fall after their positions were eliminated and they were demoted to lesser positions.

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