MINNEAPOLIS — The fiery leader of Minneapolis’ police union has built a reputation of defying the city, long before he offered the union’s full support to the officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
When the mayor banned “warrior training” for officers last year, Lt. Bob Kroll said the union would offer the training instead. When the city restricted officers from wearing uniforms at political events, he had T-shirts made to support President Donald Trump. He commended off-duty officers who walked away from a security detail after players on the state’s professional women’s basketball team, the Minnesota Lynx, wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts. And after Floyd’s death, he didn’t hold back as he called unrest in the city a “terrorist movement.”
Other unions have publicly called for Kroll’s removal, while public opinion polls show more Americans are shifting their views on police violence and believe offending officers are treated too leniently.
“People recognize that this just can’t just be half-baked measures and tinkering around the edges in policy reform. What we’re talking about right now is attacking a full-on culture shift of how police departments in Minneapolis and around the nation operate,” Mayor Jacob Frey said.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO and some of the state’s biggest unions called for Kroll to quit. Kroll, whom the Star Tribune reported is planning to step down when his term ends in 2021, hasn’t responded to interview requests.
One of the union’s victories happened in 2007, when it persuaded the city to curtail the power of the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority by shielding from public view a finding that a complaint had been sustained against an officer.
The union’s power has consistently stymied change, community leaders say.
Police unions across the country are seen as just as powerful, enshrining protections for officers who have been accused of crimes, including such special privileges as allowing them to wait 24 hours to be interrogated. They also have fought against making public misconduct claims, and traditionally lawmakers have been reticent to battle them over fears of being seen as anti-police.