Betsy Hodges today outlined a series of approaches she would take as mayor to deal with problematic Minneapolis police officers.
The City Councilwoman’s comments come after two recent incidents in which off-duty Minneapolis cops allegedly made racially charged comments and got into altercations with black men. One of them called openly gay Police Chief Janee Harteau a “(F-ing) lesbian.
“We need all the tools at our disposal to make sure that we can swiftly and judiciously handle situations like this when they arise,” said Hodges, a candidate for mayor.
Hodges didn’t make any detailed policy proposals, but she focused on early intervention techniques as a way to prevent problems.
That would mean ramping up the Police Department’s early intervention program, which she said is meant to detect behavioral problems in new officers.
“Many of these officers struggle with other difficulties, that if managed sooner would allow us to prevent a whole lot of problems.
“I would imagine that chemical dependency issues, for example, might come into play, she added. “Those might be issues that if we were to detect them sooner and help manage those sooner, that that may be something that could help prevent behavior in the future.”
Hodges said the actions of a few officers are making the rest of the department look bad.
“My biggest concern for the rank-and-file in the Police Department is how bad they are being made to look by the actions of these police officers,” she said. “This my biggest concern, that the bulk, the majority of our police officers in the city of Minneapolis are extraordinary people who put their lives on the line for me, and for you, and for everybody every single day.”
Hodges said she wants the city to hire more people of color as officers. She also said she wants to negotiate with the police union to make it easier to take swift discipline against officers.
“Right now we work with the system we have,” she said. “It has been something that has been negotiated in collective bargaining agreements over time, and if we want to make changes, we will do that through the collective bargaining changes.”