Thinking Outside The Thin Blue Line: Janee Harteau

Janee Harteau resists definition, whether it be by gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, or even her impressive new title: Chief of Minneapolis Police.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau
Photos by: Cameron Wittig

Chief Concerns


Harteau on being a good cop: “We all want the same things. We all want to be respected. A good cop can turn on compassion when you need to but also know how to take care of business. You know how to treat people fair but not equal.”

On education: “I’m a lifelong learner. I’m always trying to train and educate myself. I don’t have higher expectations for others than I do for myself. Come to work, you learn, you do the right thing. If I’m a victim of a crime, what kind of cop do I want to show up?”

On keeping a fresh perspective: “I like to stay somewhat childlike and ask a lot of whys. And my 13-year-old keeps me in that mode, too, because she asks a lot of whys. And you know what I end up saying? ‘You know, I don’t know! Why can’t we do something else?’”

On leadership: “Hierarchy is for decision-making but not for innovation. So that’s when you flip the pyramid upside down and you allow the people who do the work to be innovative and come up with the ideas. But when it comes to decision-making, that all rests top-down. Because at the end of the day, I’m not going to blame down. The only person I’m going to blame is myself.”

On policing: “What we’re looking for in policing has changed a little bit. Before I started, it was how big you were, how strong you were. Now it’s about building relationships. We’re not just law enforcement officers; we’re problem solvers, we’re collaborators, we’re community leaders. So you need all those other things when it comes to arrests, but we need different skills now. So we need gifted communicators. Let’s face it, everything we do involves people—good people, bad people. We tend to see the worst sides of people, but you build those partnerships and you can see the best side of people.”