It’s not unusual for people who work together to become romantically attracted to each other and settle down. My own workplace has been the site of several unions – which have also produced little ones who may become future public radio employees. But what about when one person in the couple is the head of the department where the two work?
I asked newly-appointed Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau if her longtime relationship with Sgt. Holly Keegel posed any potential conflicts of interest.
“Absolutely not,” said Harteau. “It doesn’t as chief and it hasn’t all the way through my career. We both started as police officers together. And we both have high integrity in what we do.”
Harteau, a 25-year veteran of the force, has been in several different leadership positions throughout her career. I also asked Harteau if any policies would have to be altered in the event that her partner were up for a promotion or discipline. Harteau said she’s already had conversations with the City Attorney’s office and HR about how to avoid those situations.
City attorney Peter Ginder says he did not speak with Harteau about the matter, but told me that the city’s nepotism policy does allow for such relationships as long as one partner is not the direct supervisor of the other. And he says there are several layers of management between Sgt. Keegel and Chief Harteau. Ginder says discipline and other decisions can be handled by police executive officers other than the chief.
Harteau and Keegel have authored two books on self-defense together. They served as patrol partners in the early ’90s.