Minneapolis police union: We're being scapegoated by "incompetent ...failed" civic leaders

True enough, although that’s not the entirety of what has happened in Minneapolis, either. After a couple of weeks of getting dragged by Minneapolis civic leaders, the police union has begun to fight back in the media. The problem with policing in Minneapolis isn’t the collective bargaining agreement, Lt. Bob Kroll and his union colleagues insisted today on CBS This Morning. The problem is the “incompetent” and “failed” leadership by city and state officials that leaves police to be “scapegoats”:

Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, said what officers did leading up to the death of George Floyd “does look and sound horrible,” but he’s waiting to see officers’ body-worn camera footage before judging the restraint police used. …

Addressing growing criticism of the conduct of the four former officers at the scene, Kroll said police union members are being unfairly “scapegoated by political leaders in our city and our state, and they have shifted their incompetent leadership, failed leadership onto us and our membership, and it is simply unjust.”

Kroll said the officer’s body camera footage could present a fuller picture. “It may shed some light that we are unaware of,” Kroll said in response to questions from anchor Gayle King. “Right now, we cannot make an informed decision regarding the other officers that do not appear on camera.”

There’s little doubt about the failed and incompetent leadership in Minneapolis and Minnesota. The entire country got a ringside seat to its full expression when the demonstrations began after the George Floyd homicide and the police retreat. Mayor Jacob Frey wept on camera about Minneapolis’ “strength,” but never showed any strength at all until the riots came to an end. Governor Tim Walz dithered for days before calling up and then deploying the National Guard. Frey, Walz, public safety commissioner John Harrington, and St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter all blamed “outsiders” and “white supremacists” for the violence, only to retreat when the actual arrests featured leftist Minnesotans.

However, that’s hardly the only issue in play here. The police in Minneapolis have a rather poor reputation in the area, and Derek Chauvin is an example of it. Prior to kneeling on Floyd’s neck for at least eight and a half minutes, more than a dozen complaints had been filed against him. Were they all unfounded? It’s tough to see how after the demonstration of Chauvin’s sense of impunity on that video, so how did Chauvin manage to keep his job for so long? The union and the CBA are probably the biggest reasons, and it’s also possibly keeping other marginal-at-best officers in uniform too.

That, however, is another example of the incompetent and failed leadership in Minneapolis. After all, the union negotiated those protections with the city, led by the same progressive Democrats that unions kept in power here for decades. It’s also the same civic leadership that approved contracts that have led to a cost per police employee of $180,000 or more, which is an absurd cost level that limits the ability to employ a community-policing approach.

The interview with Kroll and union leadership is underwhelming for the most part. They acknowledge that the video of Chauvin is “horrible,” but are still in a protective mode for the other three officers. They are relying on the CBA in complaining that the police didn’t provide them with the full video of the entire incident up front, but that may only apply when a job action is taking place. In the case of a prosecution, the union doesn’t have a lot of say over what happens to the officers.

Perhaps the best argument to be made about failed and incompetent leadership is what has happened in the vacuum left by a police department on its heels. Minneapolis has turned into Baltimore over the last couple of weeks, and now they’re having to call in other agencies to push back against an outbreak of violence:

The shock of a mass shooting in Uptown that left one man dead and 11 other people wounded had barely subsided Monday when multiple shootings elsewhere in the city swelled the number of casualties.

On Monday, the day three separate afternoon shootings on the North Side left nine people injured, Mayor Jacob Frey announced details behind a multiagency effort to quell the bloodshed that has persisted over the past several weeks.

Joining the Minneapolis Police Department will be virtually every law enforcement agency within reach: the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Transit police, and federal authorities from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the Secret Service, according to the mayor.

“The violence and lawlessness that we’ve seen the last few days is not acceptable in any form,” Frey said. “Residents, businesses and all that choose to be in Minneapolis for any reason deserve to feel safe.”

Don’t expect too many to make that choice in the future, not unless new and competent leadership emerges in city governance.