By Matt McKinney
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said Monday that she plans to examine the department's training and hiring practices after two incidents in which white officers allegedly used racial slurs and got into fights with black men while off duty.
Harteau also said that most Minneapolis police officers conduct themselves appropriately when dealing with the public and are distressed that the off-duty officers' confrontations have generated negative impressions of all city officers among some citizens.
In both cases, the officers were out late at bars when the apparently alcohol-fueled fights happened, and in both cases the officers behaved disrespectfully toward local police officers who showed up to investigate, according to police reports and video.
One of the incidents occurred June 29 in Green Bay, Wis., the other late last year in Apple Valley. Five officers from the two incidents are under internal affairs review. Two SWAT team members were suspended with pay in one case, and two officers pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the other.
The two cases have led to an uptick in criticism of expectations and accountability in the department and demands for change.
In a brief interview on Monday, Harteau said she plans to convene her Chief's Citizens Advisory Council on Wednesday, with invitations to city faith and cultural leaders, as well as the police union, to talk about the issue.
Many of the department's rank and file have been upset by the allegations, she said. "They are tired of the negative actions of a few that overshadow the great work they do every day," said Harteau. "Enough is enough."
Harteau said she wants to create a "culture of accountability" at the police department and that she's requiring all officers to say something if they see another officer acting inappropriately.
"If you continue to be silent, you're part of the problem," she said Monday.
She continued to decline to address specific questions about the two incidents, saying the internal investigations need to run their course first.
How best to investigate?
Some activists have renewed historic calls for tougher oversight and discipline for officers, as well as criticism of the City Council's dismantling last year of a civilian agency that had investigated alleged misconduct.
That agency, the Civilian Police Review Authority, folded last year with the backing of Mayor R.T. Rybak's top appointees.
Several months earlier, the authority had declared that it had no confidence in then-Police Chief Tim Dolan, complaining that he had rejected most of its recommendations to discipline officers.
Dolan countered that the CRA investigations were substandard, and helped to create the new entity, which includes much more police input. But some community activists have maintained that police should not be investigating themselves.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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