Police union head Bob Kroll says defunding would bring 'absolute lawlessness'

By 830 WCCO

(WCCO) He's been called every name in the book, and Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll knows it. Criticized for his response to George Floyd's death and for fostering union policies that some believe covered for violent and racist cops, Kroll appeared with WCCO's Roshini Rajkumar this weekend to tell his side of the story.

"I've always been open to change," he told Rajkumar.

He said the shift of blame from civic leaders to himself in the wake of Floyd's death comes from the public looking for a scapegoat, "and the police federation was an easy target."

One of the things that put him under fire was failing to come out with an immediate statement condemning Derek Chauvin for Floyd's death. Kroll sees it differently, believing he took a reasoned path that others should have emulated.

He blamed the mayor, governor, attorney general, and more, for "coming out with inflammatory statements" in the immediate wake of Floyd's death, which he said "incited a lot of the violence."

"Our officers were under attack ... We had a lot going on, but the lack of leadership from the city made it even more difficult," Kroll said, adding there should have been no rush to discuss the incident. "There's too much that we need to learn in this."

All four officers charged in Floyd's death face a pre-trial hearing today, and Kroll said he expects them to enter pleas, but said nothing else significant will probably happen. He added that two of the charged officers do not appear in the video that showed Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds, so there are still questions to be answered. "These are very junior officers," he said.

Another mystery that remains is what will happen to the Minneapolis police department after waves and waves of protesters demanded the department be defunded in the wake of Floyd's death.

Kroll said he knows what will happen if that plan goes through, and the picture that he paints isn't pretty. 

"It's unbelievable," Kroll said. "Since George Floyd's death we've been seeing a preview, if you will ... The police have been completely overwhelmed, we've had retirements en masse occurring. They were short to being with. Let's not forget, the chief had asked the mayor for 400 more officers over a period of five years. We've got none of those. We have declined.

"If you want absolute lawlessness, let's talk about what occurred here. We've got $500 million and climbing in damages. We've got 1,500 businesses that are destroyed, many that will not return. We've had 120 people shot in the last five weeks. We've had over 10 deaths. If they want more of this to occur, go ahead and defund the police."