Janee Harteau will become the top cop in Minneapolis and one of only three women running the show in a major U.S. city, says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. The others are Cathy Lanier in Washington, D.C. and Kimberley Jacobs in Columbus. There have been others in San Francisco, Detroit, Boston, Orlando, and Tampa. In 2008, roughly 2 percent of police chiefs – 212 – in the U.S. were women, says a survey by the Center on Women and Policing. Out of 342 police chiefs in Minnesota, 11 – 3 percent – are women.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based policing think tank, calls the small percentage “a problem and an issue.”Regardless of gender, the most important quality “is the experience that they bring to the position,” Wexler added. “If they have worked in many parts of the department and had the opportunity to be mentored and make decisions (in a supervisory capacity), they are in a much better position to become chief, whether they are a man or a woman,” he said. Harteau, a Duluth native of French-Canadian and Chippewa heritage, was the butt of jokes, innuendo, pranks and name-calling early in her career. That reception she expected and could weather – but not safety concerns, including allegations that fellow cops were not responding quickly or were disrupting her calls for backup during emergencies.