Minneapolis Police Federation and Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Speak Out on Failed Leadership that Allowed Riots and Continued Violence

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MN Police Unions Call Out City Leaders

“We want to see law enforcement made better, not torn down”

Public safety leaders who represent police officers in Minneapolis and other communities across Minnesota today collectively offered their voice and set the record straight on failed leadership that allowed riots and violence in Minneapolis for the past three weeks.

“Police officers share the goal of a safer Minneapolis and Minnesota built by trust and cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve. Every day members of law enforcement work to earn and build community trust. The anger of community members is real, they are hurting, and people are right to be upset about what happened to George Floyd,” said Brian Peters, executive director, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

Minneapolis Reaction:
“I was horrified when I saw the Floyd killing on video,” said Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation. “No one, including police officers in Minneapolis or any other city, should be above the law. To be clear: police officers who break the trust of the community and violate the law deserve to be held accountable for their actions.”

On Failed Leadership:
“We’re here to set the record straight: Failed leadership let rioters destroy the city and businesses. But unfortunately, over the last three weeks, we’ve watched an ongoing barrage of media stories that continue to unfairly demonize an entire profession over the actions of a very few. I've had to explain to my children that they should still be proud of law enforcement work and it is to keep them and our community safe, no matter what someone shouted at a TV camera,” said Sherral Schmidt, sergeant and vice president of the Minneapolis Police Federation. “The only way we can begin the work to rebuild relationships and strengthen communities is if politicians stop characterizing law enforcement as violent racists and demonizing the police. There is a great deal of work toward building a safer Minneapolis, but it cannot happen until politicians stop pointing fingers and bring us all together to move us forward."

"We want to see law enforcement made better, not torn down. The hateful things that many people - and frankly, many public officials - have said, is not right. There are many good ideas out there to help improve the profession, but many more that will only serve to break it down,” said Kroll.

“Politicians in Minneapolis pulled back police officers without calling in support from the state and that is the reason we have hundreds of burned businesses across the city. They compounded problems caused by the death of George Floyd by allowing protests to turn into riots," said Anna Hedberg, sergeant, and director of the MPF.

On “Defunding” or “Abolishing” the Police:
“Crime won’t be wished away, and we can’t simply abolish or defund police departments. Politicians who suggest this aren’t serious about solving problems in their community,” said Rich Walker, officer and director of the MPF.

On Union Contracts and Arbitration:
“The citizens of Minneapolis and Minnesota, frankly, deserve more from their political leaders than blaming the arbitration system of public employee unions. Every single public employee who belongs to a union is entitled to arbitration that has been developed over years of collective bargaining. Blaming a system that Democratic politicians have helped create and advocate for as the reason for problems ignores their role and responsibilities at a time when people want and need accountability,” said Walker.

“What cannot get lost is that police chiefs are responsible for all decisions related to hiring and training. Police chiefs have the full authority to hire and fire officers and the Minneapolis Police Federation (the local union) has not been part of these activities. The Minneapolis Mayor and City Council have agreed, by vote, to every labor agreement which includes binding arbitration, and they can negotiate changes,” said Kroll.

"Trying to create the false narrative that our union defends any officer for any reason is clearly not true and misleading. Approximately two police officers a year go to arbitration, and a neutral third-party decides on outcome,” said Schmidt.

"All union contracts are negotiated between two parties, and we are certainly willing to have discussions about this process going forward. It’s important to remember the contracts we have today were agreed to by city councils and union representatives alike for years. To blame only one side is simply leadership deflecting from responsibility. This proposed change to only one type of public employee union does not address the core issue of improving trust and simply erodes worker protection and due process,” said Schmidt.

“The system of workplace justice – which is closely akin to our criminal justice system in many respects – requires that all public employees, even police officers, have the opportunity to contest discipline before a neutral third-party,” said Schmidt.

Research done with statistics provided by the Bureau of Mediation Services and given to the “Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters Working Group” shows that from 2006-2019;

  • There were 67 arbitration awards involving the termination of a law enforcement officer. In these cases, termination was upheld in 37 (55.2%).
  • During the same period, there were arbitration awards issued and reported on the BMS website in 421 termination cases for all other types of employees. In these cases, termination was upheld in 223 (52.9%).
  • Conclusion: Arbitrators sustain the termination of law enforcement officers at a slightly higher rate than for other types of employees.

Furthermore: in 14 years, there have been only three cases involving serious on-duty misconduct (excessive force and untruthfulness) in which the arbitrator sustained the charges upon which termination was based but imposed lesser discipline. This does not support the perception that the arbitration system is broken or the supposition that peace officers should have lesser rights than other public employees.

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) has represented Minnesota’s public safety officers for nearly 100 years and currently has 10,000+ members who hold active law enforcement licenses in the state of Minnesota. Our members include municipal police officers, county deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, and other public safety professionals. The MPPOA is the largest association representing public safety professionals in the State of Minnesota.

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Robb Leer
Leer Communications and Consultants
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