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Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau comments on Friday's 'traumatic events'

The Minneapolis Police Department went ahead with its annual awards program Monday, three days after a chaotic chain of deadly events in Uptown.

By the end of Friday, a burglar had been killed, two officers had suffered gunshot wounds and a motorcycle rider died when his bike collided with a police vehicle.

“Last Friday’s traumatic events serve as another reminder of how dangerous it truly is to be a police officer, never knowing if that so-called routine call turns into something more significant or life-threatening,” Police Chief Janee Harteau told the awards audience.

“Those events also serve as a reminder of how many split-second decisions police officers make every day and the courage it takes to make those decisions, knowing that every one of them comes with risk,” she said.

Harteau so far has declined to answer questions from reporters seeking updates into the investigations of Friday’s events.

“As I reflect on the events of this past weekend, the word I feel best describes out department is resilient,” said Harteau. “We are not perfect, I’m not sure who is, but we are committed to doing our best and are always in search of excellence,” she told the group.

“We are continually challenged but we create opportunities,” said Harteau. “We take setbacks and turn them into comebacks, and when the crisis hits, regardless of the danger, every MPD cop responds.”

The awards gathering brought together officers, civilian employees and their families at the Special Operations Center in North Minneapolis.

More than 200 officers, civilian employees and citizens were recognized for their service on everything from innovative management contributions to life-saving actions in the line of duty.

Officers Brandon Kitzerow and James Huber both received the highest award, the Medal of Honor, for their actions under attack.

The response team to the Accent Signage murders was awarded the Medal of Valor.

The Second Precinct in Northeast Minneapolis was recognized for the highest reduction in the category of crimes that include homicide, rape and aggravated assault.

Officer Kitzerow was responding to a report of shots fired in February 2012. A car was stopped by police and one of the passengers fled on foot. Kitzerow followed, with the two exchanging shots. The suspect was taken into custody and Kitzerow was recognized for his “selfless bravery” in the incident.

MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
Officers James Huber and Katherine Hammes, of the Park Police, were honored at the ceremony Monday.

Officer Huber and his partner, Officer Katherine Hammes, both of the Park Police, were lured into an ambush last August on West Minnehaha Parkway. Huber was stabbed in the chest but was saved from injury by his body armor. Hammes was stabbed in the back and also suffered a scalp wound and a concussion. The suspect was arrested.

Huber received the Medal of Honor award, and Hammes was awarded the Medal of Valor.

The Civilian of the Year Award went to Lloyd Kwiecien, who is an evidence technician in the Property and Evidence Unit.

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Comments (4)

not to disparage hard-working cops, but....

“Last Friday’s traumatic events serve as another reminder of how dangerous it truly is to be a police officer..."

Seems to me those events are a reminder of how dangerous it is to be around a police officer. There was no good reason for that traffic accident. Also the cops have distorted the record of the guy they shot making him sound like a career felon when he only had one conviction several years ago. So hidden from the public there was this event where the two cops got shot and the guy got killed. Can we trust that the truth will ever come out? The chief is already painting them as heros and the guy as a lifetime bad guy. My first impression of the family was they were whining too much and this guy was probably doomed by the life he led. But as time goes on I sympathize with the family. They have a right to know what truly happened to their son/relative, but I think the odds are good that the truth will ever be truly known, at least the part of the truth that involves any poor judgement or criminal action by the cops.

My impression of this chief so far has been that she likes to show up for the cameras at all the big events. Now my impression is evolving to include that she sees her job to serve and protect the members of the force moreso than the members of the public. Hope I'm wrong.

First crisis?

"Last Friday's traumatic events.." may well be Chief Harteau's first chance to demonstrate a new transparency for the MPD. So far, she has passed on that opportunity. No doubt this was a complicated, rapidly unfolding event that takes some time to unravel. But silence is not a positive public relations strategy. Neither is distortion. It is great that the police are "a band of brothers" (and sisters), but that group loyalty never should take precedence to their either their loyalty to the public or to the truth.

MPD

Both commenters have valid points. Harteau is all about appearing on camera and her "transparency" mantra is all do as I say, not as I do.

Here it is, five days later and ...

The cops still don't know if the light was green or not. Also, although the witnesses, including cars that were passed by the cop car, say the cop was going about 40-50 mph, the cops are saying the cop car was going "well below" the speed limit. The cops claim to have video evidence that the cop car was going below the speed limit but the same evidence can't tell what color the light was. Nice. So either the cop car was going very slow but in enough of a hurry to run a light or the motorcycle driver was totally at fault, driving recklessly enough to run a light and get himself killed. I think the big trauma for the chief comes from trying to squeeze that big load out of you know where. Another nice picture of her in the paper today resting her hand on the shoulder of another victim and flashing her "concerned" face.