A top cop swap

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September 14, 2009 // UPDATED 9:27 am - September 14, 2009
By: Jake Weyer
Jake Weyer
// Former Downtown inspector Janeé Harteau promoted to deputy chief; Insp. Kristine Arneson moves from Southwest to take the reins //

The Minneapolis Police Department’s former Downtown commander, Janeé Harteau, took on a new role as deputy chief of the Patrol Bureau this month, ending a three-and-a-half year term in the 1st Precinct.

Harteau filled the position left by Deputy Chief Robert Allen, who was promoted to commander of the Investigations Bureau when Deputy Chief Valerie Wurster retired. Insp. Kristine Arneson, previously of the 5th Precinct, is the new 1st Precinct commander; her position was filled by former lieutenant Eddie Frizell.

Harteau spent two decades in a variety of roles with the Minneapolis Police Department before her promotion to inspector in April 2006. During the three years that followed, she oversaw the SafeZone collaborative between police, Downtown businesses and community members; worked to increase police visibility; responded to the I-35W Bridge collapse and oversaw the creation of a court watch program, a Block E substation and a Downtown surveillance and communication center.  

She was also at the helm of the precinct during a substantial drop in violent crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. As of Sept. 7 of this year, violent crime in the 1st Precinct was down roughly 13 percent compared to last year and 24 percent compared to 2007. It is down 17 percent compared to statistics from January through August 2006.

“We think she’s been especially impatient with bad behavior on the streets,” Minneapolis Downtown Council President Sam Grabarski said of Harteau. “And I mean impatient in a good way.”

Matching perception with reality

Harteau said her greatest challenge — one that Arneson now faces — has been fighting the perception of Downtown as an unsafe area.

“Perception is reality and if people don’t feel safe, they’re not safe,” Harteau said. “So one of the things we really wanted to tackle was changing the perception.”

Her approach to doing that was to keep an emphasis on making arrests for violent crimes while stepping up policing of livability offenses such as panhandling and loitering. She simultaneously set out to make police officers more visible through increased bicycle patrols, more officers on horseback and the introduction of three-wheeled patrol vehicles called T3s.

Harteau also put an emphasis on partnerships with business and community organizations and worked closely with those groups as president of the SafeZone board. The partnerships paid off when the I-35W Bridge collapsed in 2007. Harteau said after the collapse, she immediately had area businesses and community members calling to offer help.   

“It’s one of those things that you never want to happen, but you train for it and when it does happen and you’re prepared, it’s really a tremendous feeling,” she said. “And that’s when I really knew how great our partnerships were Downtown.”

The next year, Harteau launched a police substation in Block E to further increase police presence Downtown and in July of this year, she oversaw the creation of a “Fusion Center” in the 1st Precinct. The center serves as a surveillance hub, emergency dispatch and hospitality resource for the area and is operated by the Downtown Improvement District.

Luther Krueger, a crime prevention analyst for the police Department who previously worked in a community outreach position for the 1st Precinct, said Harteau was always willing to try new strategies and quick to dump those that didn’t work.

“She lets everyone play to their strengths, lets everyone be creative and really puts the community first in all of the decisions that are made as to how we deploy our resources and so forth,” Krueger said.

Philip Ailiff, a member of the North Loop Neighborhood Association board, said the backing of Harteau and her staff helped the neighborhood get involved in the precinct’s court watch program and develop a crime and livability committee, which is now a year old.  

“I believe she encourages the police department to reach out to neighborhoods and for the neighborhoods to reach back,” Ailiff said. “And the police department has definitely been supportive in all of our efforts.”

If you’re not first, you’re last

Emblazoned on a baseball cap Harteau keeps in her office is the 1st Precinct’s motto, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

It’s a phrase her staff adopted when she decided early in her term to develop a brand for the precinct.

“Initially that became something we aspired to be,” she said. “Now, that’s something we truly are.”

She’s hoping Arneson can maintain the mantra and suspects the former 5th Precinct inspector’s similar experience with community collaboration in Southwest will make her a good fit for the job.

Arneson, who has served with the Minneapolis Police Department since 1986, was Southwest’s inspector for five years before making the move Downtown. She applied for the role because she wanted a new challenge.

“It’s a huge business community Downtown and it’s very important to the city of Minneapolis and the state,” she said. “I think how Downtown goes, the rest of Minneapolis goes and the state goes.”

Police Chief Tim Dolan said the role of 1st Precinct inspector is a key leadership position in the department, one that offers an opportunity to build relationships in the public and private sectors that will pay off in a later role as deputy chief.

In her new position as deputy chief of the Patrol Bureau, Harteau is responsible for all of the department’s 911 response personnel and emergency services units. The Patrol Bureau makes up roughly 76 percent of the entire department, she said.

Harteau said she wasn’t expecting the promotion, which she called a double-edged sword because of her fondness for the 1st Precinct. She said working Downtown was the most challenging and rewarding thing she’s done so far in her law enforcement career.   

“My promotion is only because of the people who are in the 1st Precinct,” Harteau said. “I mean the business community, officers, all the folks I work with. This is really their promotion. It is their work that has put me in the spotlight.”

Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or jweyer@mnpubs.com.