Behind Every Terrible Police Officer Is An Even Worse Police Union Rep

from the get-in-the-sea,-Bob-Kroll dept

The biggest impediments to serious police reform are the shields erected around them, preventing officers from being held responsible for just about anything. Officer Derek Chauvin, whose brutal killing of a black man has provoked a national civil uprising, may be criminally charged at the moment. But that’s no guarantee he won’t end up a cop again, even if he ends up convicted.

Whitewashing police misconduct is par for the course. Police unions — which have little in common with the labor unions that have put some employees on more equal ground with their employers — have ensured officers are extended a ton of extra rights to help them escape accountability for their abuses of power. The average perp is dragged downtown and sweated down by interrogators until they crack. The average cop accused of a crime usually has a day or two free from tough questions to get their story straight. They also have union-appointed legal reps at their disposal and a contractual burial of paperwork detailing their previous misdeeds. Should they manage to somehow get fired, they head directly into arbitration, arguing for their reinstatement against city officials who have to work with at least one arm legally tied behind their back.

The Minneapolis PD is no exception. Its union is powerful. And it’s led by someone on par with those fronting the NYPD’s police unions — the unions that have routinely disparaged the public, the press, and city leaders for daring to criticize any officers’ actions.

Police Officers Federation of Minnesota leader Bob Kroll may not be as nationally famous as Pat Lynch or Ed Mullins. But he is locally infamous as the face of police misconduct — a man who aligns himself with President Trump and his glorification of cops and their violence. Melissa Segura has written a piece about Bob Kroll’s involvement in making the Minneapolis PD worse (along with the general terribleness of police unions), but my first exposure to Bob Kroll’s awfulness came via a St. Paul (MN) native and former coworker/current friend of mine, who’s living only miles away from the epicenter of the current civil unrest.

As is pointed out by my friend and BuzzFeed, the city tried to curb the baser instincts of officers by steering them away from training that teaches them to treat everyone they run into as a violent threat. For years, a former cop has been traveling the country putting officers into the “warrior” mindset, delivering hideous guidance and advice, like promising officers the best sex they’ll ever have will follow their killing of a citizen.

More than a year before a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned George Floyd to the ground in a knee chokehold, Mayor Jacob Frey banned “warrior” training for the city’s police force.

Private trainers across the country host seminars, frequently at taxpayer expense, teaching “killology” and pushing the notion that if officers aren’t willing to “snuff out a life” then they should “consider another line of work.” Frey explained that this type of training — which has accompanied the increasing militarization of the police over the last few decades — undermined the community-based policing he wanted the city to adopt after a string of high-profile killings in the region.

But then the police union stepped in.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis worked out a deal with a company to offer warrior training. For free. For as long as Frey was mayor.

Steering clear of training that exacerbates current law enforcement issues would have a positive effect on cops and their relationship to the people they serve. But that’s unacceptable, according to the Minneapolis police union and its leader. Instead, Kroll sends cops out on the union’s tab to partake in particularly toxic masculinity, allowing them to fully embrace the worst aspects of their personalities as some sort of law enforcement “tool.”

Every dues-paying cop knows the benefits of this relationship. It means they have an always-available legal defense fund they can dip into. They know their trail of destruction cannot be used against them during current investigations. And they know the public can do almost nothing about, since police unions tend to wield more power than their oversight, whether it’s city governments or independent oversight boards.

While we understand law enforcement agencies are arms of the city governments they ostensibly serve, we also expect them to — at least publicly — maintain some sort of political agnosticism. We don’t want cops pulling us over because we’ve bumper-stickered our support for candidates they don’t like across the back of our cars. We also want to believe they’re not aligning themselves with any ideology that might result in inequitable treatment of the policed. That ship has sailed, ladies and gentleman. The cops in Minneapolis have boldly — and very publicly — said they’re solidly supportive of the powers that be.

The Minneapolis chapter sold “Cops for Trump” T-shirts on its website, and national police unions have publicly endorsed Trump.

This followed another public endorsement of Trump by union leader Bob Kroll, who appeared onstage with Trump during a rally.

Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, wore a bright red “Cops for Trump” T-shirt, and spoke at Target Center about how the president supports police departments across the country as they face scrutiny following years of high-profile police shootings.

“The Obama administration and the handcuffing and oppression of police was despicable,” Kroll said. “The first thing President Trump did when he took office was turn that around … he decided to start let cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of (on) us.

And, as if Kroll’s relationship with the public wasn’t screwed up enough, there’s another aspect to his life that suggests some of the local press may be hesitant to engage in criticism of the Minneapolis PD. Kroll will offer controversial (or bigoted) comments on just about anything that happens to mildly annoy him. But he won’t talk about being literally married to the local press.

[Kroll] came under fire after reportedly suggesting that then-U. S. Rep. Keith Ellison was a terrorist. Another time, he was suspended after being accused of using a homophobic slur about a gay aide to former Mayor R.T. Rybak. Both episodes, which Kroll continues to deny happened as reported, were cited in a 2007 federal lawsuit brought by five black officers, including Arradondo, as examples of institutional racism within the department’s ranks.

Like many cops, Kroll keeps his private life private, particularly his marriage to WCCO-TV reporter Liz Collin. He refused to discuss the subject — going as far as saying he’d no longer talk to the Star Tribune if it reported they were married. He said he was concerned it would negatively affect her career.

Kroll runs an organization that wields more power than the people charged with controlling the officers he represents. The negative pasts of cops are wiped away by boilerplate. And since an officer’s past can’t be used against them during current investigations, fewer and fewer complaints end up sustained as time goes on. The internal investigation process is self-defeating, thanks to the union’s intervention.

Minneapolis’s contract, similar to others, states that “investigations into an employee’s conduct which do not result in the imposition of discipline shall not be entered into the employee’s official personnel file.” Translation: Since only around 1% of complaints adjudicated since 2012 have resulted in an officer being disciplined, city records show, most complaints will be erased.

There are shades of qualified immunity (another large impediment to police reform) in the union contract. If complaints can’t be sustained — and an officer’s pattern of conduct rendered irrelevant — it makes it almost impossible for investigators to prove any misconduct was either part of a pattern or previously shown to be a violation of policy.

“Because the city never disciplines anybody, any discipline is inconsistent with past practice,” [activist Dave Bicking] said, referring to the common practice of basing decisions on past precedent. “You can’t discipline now because you’ve never disciplined before. It’s a real Catch-22.”

The end result is an officer killing an unresistant person in broad daylight in front of several cameras while three other officers joined in. This is why no officer moved to stop Chauvin from performing his dangerous restraint technique, even after it had already determined George Floyd was no longer responsive and no pulse could be detected.

If you want to change policing, you have to start with the entities that allow officers to indulge in their worst excesses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear any city is strong enough to stand up against police unions. Playing hardball with contracts makes city leaders appear soft on crime and most tend to steer very clear of anything that might provoke a strike or work slowdown. But it appears other unions — ones whose worst excesses rarely result in their employees killing other people — are sick of police unions and their bullshit.

“Bob is the president and what I believe is he really perpetuates a culture of violence towards people of our community, members of the black community and really all people of color,” said Bill McCarthy, president of Minnesota AFL-CIO, which represents thousands of workers across the state. “He’s setting the tone, he’s setting this culture of violence against his citizenry among the ranks and so he needs to go.”

[…]

Education Minnesota, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals, AFSCME Council 5, SEIU Minnesota, and the Minnesota Nurses Association have now all issued their own statements in support of the AFL-CIO.

This may possibly end with Bob Kroll resigning or being forced out. But the union will remain. And Kroll’s replacement will likely be someone just as willing to shield officers from their destructive acts. Until that entity is gone — or rendered mostly powerless — the abuses that have set this nation on fire will continue.

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Comments on “Behind Every Terrible Police Officer Is An Even Worse Police Union Rep”

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29 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Have at it.

Cancel the damned police union contract and let them go on strike. We win twice. Then, like Reagan did with the air traffic controllers, start hiring, with a contract that says that we are in control and that they may not have a union in the future, and that striking in the future is a terminable offense. Many caveats on rehiring any existing officers, either from Minneapolis or other agency.

Depending on the rapidity of the force renewal, there will likely be only a small, if any, uptick in crime, as shown by the NYPD work slowdown where there was a significant drop on complaints about police, and no increase in crime.

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Bloof (profile) says:

While I’m generally not in favour of union busting, the police unions have spent too long defending the indefensible, acting as a blue wall to protect the worst of the worst cops from suffering the full brunt of the consequences of their actions. They’ve left cops feeling invincible politically, and lead to the ‘Shoot first, make up a justification for it later’ mindset becoming so widespread, as they know they won’t be treated like anyone else.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unions aren’t a bad idea in general, and in fact can serve a good purpose in giving employees some bargaining leverage against a company rather than being forced into ‘take it or leave’ it situations, the problem comes when the union goes from being an equalizer to replacing the employer as the one making the rules, and making it impossible to remove or even consider punishing those that really shouldn’t have the job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Labor Unions

the concept of labor unions is fine generally — it fits into the basic right of Freedom of Association.

however, longstanding (Progressive Era) federal/state legislation grants unions outrageous levels of legal privileges & immunitys that destroyed any semblance of a fair, level playing field between unions and employers.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"All unions seems to do the same thing. Protect the worst workers and encourage the good workers to do a worse job."

The point of a union is to protect their members, come hell or high water.
The point of the employer is to gain as much benefit from the employee as possible.

Normally this works in a compromise with each side negotiating a win-win. Unfortunately the police unions showed up with the idea that "We’re OK with police killing people at random" and the publics response – their employers, remember, was "OK so long as it isn’t people we actually CARE about".

Police unions might have been OK if "the public" hadn’t continually let them have everything they asked for. Today that’s not that OK since most police unions make Jimmy Hoffa look like Gandhi.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Cop unions aren’t unions, they’re gangs."

In many cases that’s a more fitting description than you might realize. The minnesota and NYC police unions seem to be run almost entirely by wise guys and members of "associations" which would be considered white supremacy biker gangs if it wasn’t for all the cops being part of them.

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John Pettitt (profile) says:

And then there is this

From the San Francisco police union saying they won’t police city transit because the MTA won’t transport them any more.

Hey Muni, lose our number next time you need officers for fare evasion enforcement or removing problem passengers from your buses and trains. Shouldn’t be a @SFPD officer’s job anyway. @SFPDChief should stop using us for this.

https://twitter.com/SanFranciscoPOA/status/1270741418336645120

In other words they are saying that neither the chief nor elected officials are in charge of SFPD any more.

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

How the fuck did this happen?

So to our law enforcement officers, murder is a perk and SWAT raids are a thing you take your young folk to like an amusement park ride?

How the fuck did this get past our radar and become an accepted norm? What kind of blood-and-soil magic bullshit is this? How is it that we, as a society were so daft as to let it fly once, let alone become a norm in police training?

I am beyond livid. Beyond sensibility.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: How the fuck did this happen?

"How is it that we, as a society were so daft as to let it fly once, let alone become a norm in police training?"

Because in the US, if you are a politician who platforms on the promise of holding the police to account the smear campaign starts, where a high-paid advertising firm makes a film which implies you will personally break into peoples houses, kidnap their kids and sell them to the mexican cartels. Because you’re on the side of criminals, not the police.

And the US herd of gullible sheep all go "Baaaah?!", then shit themselves and elect the strongman instead. Who often, but not always, has views on minorities.

tz1 (profile) says:

You exhonerate Chauvin

The Minneapolis PD or their union trained officer Chauvin in “neck restraint” technique.

He will be found not guilty because he did exactly what he was trained to do in the way he was trained with the “I was in fear of my life” excuse.

Apparently this is what cops sent to Israel for training learn, among other things.

Whom does the Police Union support in the Minnesota and Local elections? Don’t expect the city council or mayor to really do anything. Kroll may be for Trump but for far longer (maybe check the FEC database if you want to do journalism) simply decided to be the Democrats’ mercenary. Local policing is, well, local. Which means you just need to go along with the local corrupt political machine.

MN did elect Jesse Ventura many years ago. I think they need more WWE stars on all levels instead of the politicians.

I’ve been shouting about the problem with Cops “killology” maybe for longer than you have lived, but no one cares. It is either “all cops are devils” or “all cops are angels”, identity politics. Even now no one really wants to fix anything, just assign blame.

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tz1 (profile) says:

You exhonerate Chauvin

The Minneapolis PD or their union trained officer Chauvin in “neck restraint” technique.

He will be found not guilty because he did exactly what he was trained to do in the way he was trained with the “I was in fear of my life” excuse.

Apparently this is what cops sent to Israel for training learn, among other things.

Whom does the Police Union support in the Minnesota and Local elections? Don’t expect the city council or mayor to really do anything. Kroll may be for Trump but for far longer (maybe check the FEC database if you want to do journalism) simply decided to be the Democrats’ mercenary. Local policing is, well, local. Which means you just need to go along with the local corrupt political machine.

MN did elect Jesse Ventura many years ago. I think they need more WWE stars on all levels instead of the politicians.

I’ve been shouting about the problem with Cops “killology” maybe for longer than you have lived, but no one cares. It is either “all cops are devils” or “all cops are angels”, identity politics. Even now no one really wants to fix anything, just assign blame.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Police Supervisors

‘ Behind Every Terrible Police Officer Is An Even Worse Police Supervisor ‘

EVERY bad cop has one or more police supervisors in their direct chain of command.
These supervisors hired, trained, maintained, and daily controlled the bad cop’s duty performance.

But these bad supervisors always get a pass for their deplorable performance.
Whho was the boss of that Minneapolis cop who killed George Floyd (?) — his name is not even mentioned in the vast news coverage, much less does he face any disciplne or legal charges.

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cattress (profile) says:

Seems to me that it’s unconstitutional for any level of government to have agreed to any collective bargaining that allows arms of the executive branch to violate the enumerated and implied protections in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights are the explicit rules that restrict the government. The military prohibits unionization. And while far from perfect, as it is a world without the fourth estate as watchdog, seems to do well at not just training and preparing servicemembers, but also holding them to high expectations and accountability. For any policing that cannot be disbanded, as I still want an investigative agency able to arrest to suspects of murder, rape, theft- crimes with victims only- should be under the a very similar accountability program as the military. (For anyone who thinks the cops are the thin blue line between safety and chaos, who actually protect the innocent, and nothing you have seen over the past few weeks has changed that perception, you are going to be very disappointed if you ever call for their assistance. There’s no situation that calling the cops can’t make worse, speaking from experience)

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"The Bill of Rights are the explicit rules that restrict the government."

…or, as it could be defined since 9/11 when the US collectively lost every sense of proportionality, the Toilet Paper of Government.
What makes it even more tragic is that most of the proposed legislation the democrats and liberals try to bring to the table is about making that toilet paper a bit rougher at most.

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Crimes with victims

The police suck at all of those. They’re notoriously bad at sexual assault cases such as rape, and the (numerous) investigative breakdowns of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson should serve to demonstrate how murders get obfuscated by a sea of incompetence.

Incidentally, no one investigates white collar crime, which cause more victims (death, injury, property loss, etc.) than all street crime by multiple orders of magnitude. With the exception of loss-of-profits crimes, which are prosecuted. But no-one went to jail for (for instance) the subprime mortgage crisis. And the Enron scandal was only prosecuted because Enron collapsed and profits were lost, not all the damage done to California.

Jim says:

Yeah, right?

No, folks, is it a bad union, or a bad person in a union. There is a difference. Unions are usually for the protection of the employee. By banning unions, you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. The union is there for a reason, usually bad management. Bad politicians create bad policy that has to be tempered.bad policy can be too few cops on the street. That leaves the citizen defenceless. They therefore would have to buy weapons, leaving the good cops in more danger, leaving the shopowners in more peril. More bodies on the streets. Is that good for business just reopening? Now, we ask the cop to do everything from medical calls, to enforcing bad rules, that’s why you need good cops, but that’s supposed to be personnel’s prerview. Is personnel, human resources doing their job? Weeding the bad from the good? Or are they accepting hacks from the pool. And not training them to an acceptable standard. And the bad cop learned that hold, to be used, where? TV wrestling? Kung Fu movies?

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Yeah, right?

"By banning unions, you are throwing the baby out with the bath water…"

The bath water here is concentrated lye. There is no longer a baby to be found in it. That’s the more exact analogy.

Sure, Unions exist for a reason, but it’s apparent that in the US of today the police union can not be trusted to exist. Whatever harm bad management can result in will have to be dealt with in a different manner than unionization.

Given the extensive militarization of the police I don’t see a problem with extending the US code §976 to include the police in addition to the military.

It’s been pretty clear since the investigations around cop culture ever since Rodney King that police unions encourage and defend every issue surrounding bad cops. Personnel you said? HR isn’t allowed to fire cops or deny them continued employment, usually, courtesy of the union. Hell, a LEO is often allowed to officially clear his complaint record every 60 days. Often can’t be fired for less than murder. Often can’t be charged with actual murder in practice…and in many cases gets to see the evidence against him 24 hours before the prosecution or investigators do, giving him plenty of time to square his story with his peers.

All thanks to police unions.

So when the union has specifically blocked every venue to address bad police officers, where would you place the blame?

It would be nice if it was just Bob Kroll in Minnesota – but it’s not. Police unions are, more often than not, chiefed and staffed by the very worst type of cop around.

dickeyrat says:

Yeah, some of what we read here would be very nice and all, but!….It’s pretty much a given that Blump will still be the dictator-of-choice one year from now. Yes, Amerika IS stupid enough to actually vote him in for the first time; barring that, he will do everything humanly possible to retain power, up to and including using worshipers in the form of a perverted "citizens’ militia" to guard his presence in a paramilitary sort of way, at the White House. The question remains fully wide-open: does the United States have the brains and the balls to forcibly remove him from the premises? Kill some worshipers in the process, and physically manhandle Blump himself (hopefully to the point of critical injury, while we’re at it!). Point being, Blump is already trumpeting his pleasure with his very own Schutzstaffel, his "S.S.", just like his idol and ideological mentor Adolf Hitler. In that process, he is elevating police to a more official, federally-backed level of deadly "authority", a major tool of what he sees as necessary for proper control of an obedient populace. There’s no doubt that his major fantasy (prostitutes pissing all over him notwithstanding) involves a lifetime dictatorship, bolstered by millions of drooling, knuckle-dragging, adoring worshipers. He sees police as a willing, able and handy tool toward obtaining and maintenance of that lofty goal.

Anonymous Coward says:

20 Minutes into the Future

In Response to overwhelming public demand, All State, Local & Tribal Law Enforcement departments will work directly with the the DHS office of Law Enforcement Department training and Accountability Division.

All Member departments will have access to federally approved and funded training and guidelines for citizen interaction.

Department and training guidelines will be nationally standardized.
Public interaction will be closely guided and monitored at the federal level.

Thank you for your cooperation.

(DHS is staging a coup, and engaging the local police. The bill of right will be suspended)

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