MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The chief of the Minneapolis Police Department is telling the head of the police union to stop wearing his uniform during interviews with the press.
In an email obtained by WCCO, MPD Chief Janée Harteau told Lt. Bob Kroll — the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation — to wear his uniform only when speaking on behalf of the department, and not on behalf of the union.
“When the MPD uniform is worn, the public sees the entire department,” Harteau said in the email.
As the uniforms are paid for by the city of Minneapolis, the chief of police can order subordinate officer when and how to use it, Harteau argued in the email.
“This letter is a reminder as well as a direct order that you wear your MPD uniform only for MPD-sanctioned purposes,” Harteau writes. “‘MPD-sanctioned purposes’ does not include speaking in your capacity as a labor union representative. Therefore, I am also directing you to not wear an MPD uniform when speaking in your capacity as a union representative.”
Harteau also mentioned multiple complaints about Kroll’s conduct sent to the Office of Police Conduct Review, and cited a pending investigation.
Kroll recently came under fire for his comments after a flap between Minnesota Lynx players and four off-duty police officers providing security at the stadium. Several players recently spoke in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement, and wore warmup t-shirts that read, “Change Starts With Us,” and listed the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
After a press conference with the players, the officers walked off the job at the stadium in protest. Kroll made an impassioned statement in support of the officers, saying the players’ shirts and statements were “anti-police,” and that they should “stick to playing ball.” He also said there were only four officers on duty at the stadium because “the Lynx has such a pathetic draw.” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges later said Kroll’s comments were “jackass remarks.”
Speaking with WCCO, Kroll said he believes Hodges is “behind the order,” to control the use of his uniform. He cited a longstanding practice allowing union representatives to wear uniforms at interviews and appearances. He said he plans to look at his legal options, but first plans to meet and discuss the issue with Harteau.