Police Chief Janeé Harteau and I today announced three forums with the community about public safety, police accountability and public trust: one in south Minneapolis, one in North Minneapolis, and one in Cedar–Riverside, all in October. Improving safety, accountability and trust are at the heart of the investments I’ve made in my proposed 2015 budget for the City. Moreover, I’ve worked on police accountability for many years, and the issue was at the center of my campaign for mayor. So I’m looking forward to great discussions at the forums and to moving our city forward together.
Last week I supported, and I continue to support, Chief Harteau’s decision not to participate in the listening session. When our chief of police — our top public safety official with 27 years of experience, who has put herself on the line as a police officer for decades — tells me that she has information she believes is credible that there is a risk to the public if she attends an event, I believe her. That is the message she conveyed to me and to Council members; at no point did she cite risk to herself as the reason for her withdrawal.
I know that Chief Harteau and I share a commitment to strong relationships between the MPD and the community. Her work on MPD 2.0, community policing, and body cams, along with her regular presence in the community, have demonstrated that over time. So has a commitment to culture change and to a diverse department that looks like the communities that MPD serves, particularly our communities of color.
Given that shared commitment, I appreciate these words from Chief Harteau:
“Being transparent and doing business differently also means taking responsibility. When I described my decision not to attend last week’s listening session, I have learned some people were offended by my comments, and I apologize for them. As a Chief of Police who has worked for decades to help make our city stronger, it was never my intent to imply anything less than my full respect for all of our City’s diverse communities, and the great value that they create every single day in Minneapolis.”
I know that all of us in Minneapolis share a commitment to public safety, accountability and public trust, and I assume good will among everyone who shares that commitment. A core principle that guides me in my work as mayor is assuming good will, because we will get farther in building the equitable, growing and well-run city that we all want when we assume good will in each other.
We can also recognize that our intent alone is often not enough: even when we have no intent to offend, we can commit to taking stock of the effects of our words and actions, and correcting them when necessary.
I am confident that together, we can and will engage in constructive conversations about our differences while knowing that our similarities are far greater, and are what bind us as communities and human beings.
I look forward to what we will build together at the forums.