City police should examine priorities

by Daily Editorial Board

Avote to reappoint Janee Harteau as Minneapolis police chief has been delayed to allow supporters and dissenters the opportunity to sound off to the Minneapolis City Council, which will ultimately place the deciding votes. As the Council deliberates, we urge them keep the following points in mind.
The next police chief of Minneapolis will be in charge of policing a city still smarting from last year’s 4th Precinct protests, which followed the death of Jamar Clark at the hands of city police officers. Many people describe a deep lack of trust between minority communities and police officers, the large majority of whom do not live in the city they serve. 
Police treatment of 4th Precinct occupiers has also been criticized. In a city suffering from extreme racial disparities and residential segregation, repairing relations between communities of color and the police officers charged with protecting them needs to be the next police chief’s top priority.
The next police chief also needs to take active steps to improve police response to mental health-related crises. Not all of Minneapolis police officers receive proper crisis intervention training. People seeking assistance with a mental health-related problem have no guarantee that a trained officer will respond to their call. 
The City Council should seek a police chief who is willing to make changes to reform police policies surrounding the mentally ill and communities of color. Unless Harteau is willing to take those steps, she isn’t the right person for the job.