Rybak defends Harteau again following police union opinion piece

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is once again defending Police Chief Janee Harteau's idea to have the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigate high-profile incidents involving police officers, the Star Tribune reports.

Rybak posted a statement on his Facebook page Thursday in reaction to a Star Tribune opinion piece published earlier in the day by Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Lt. John Delmonico.

Harteau announced last week that getting outside help from the BCA when investigating cases alleging officer misconduct would be helpful in restoring public trust. In his opinion piece, however, Delmonico wrote that the plan suggests the opposite.

"Implicit in this rationale is the chief’s apparent belief that the public cannot or should not trust the investigators employed by the MPD. Therein lies our fundamental difference with Harteau," Delmonico wrote. "The federation believes that the public can and should trust Minneapolis police officers."

In his Facebook post, Rybak responded: "Guess that 'Holiday spirit' didn't last too long. This morning the head of the Police Federation wrote this piece that says Chief Harteau does not support her officers. That over-the-top charge misses the point: Everyone, the public and police, is served when, in highly charged critical incidents, there is an independent eye that gives the assurance we did everything to get to the truth."

Rybak first defended Harteau in an interview with MPR News a week ago, saying serious, high-profile cases deserve to be investigated by a completely independent agency like the BCA.

The mayor's reaction followed Gov. Mark Dayton's action to block Harteau's plan because she unilaterally announced the proposed arrangement between the MPD and BCA without first notifying the commissioner of Public Safety, Dayton or his chief of staff.

"Given this turn of events, and until all parties reach agreement on this matter, the arrangement announced by the Minneapolis Chief of Police is inoperative," a governor's spokesman told the Star Tribune in an email.

A police department spokeswoman said Harteau was "perplexed" by Dayton's action.

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