Mpls. police union head has serious reservations on de-escalation policies

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the police union
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, speaks at a March news conference.
Peter Cox | MPR News

Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police officers union, says he has serious reservations about the department's new emphasis on de-escalation.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau announced a series of policy changes Monday aimed at defusing conflict and lessening use of force by officers. Kroll said the policies could have unintended consequences, though, like allowing disturbances to go on unnecessarily or allowing armed suspects to threaten more people.

"Reasonable officers always go in with de-escalation techniques. That's how we are trained," he said. "So creating a policy that says you need to do that is redundant."

Betsy Hodges, right, and Janee Harteau
Betsy Hodges, right, and Janee Harteau
Jim Mone | AP

Kroll also said he's not sure the public will like the de-escalation policy. Backing away from disturbances or waiting out suspects, he says, isn't what people expect from police.

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"Your average person doesn't want to call 911," he said, so the situation's already out of hand when police are called. "They want the cops to come and solve the problem. And have the problem end, and leave. They don't want to make a bigger scene."

Calls for greater de-escalation by police are common among police critics, especially since the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark last November in Minneapolis.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union hailed the department's changes on Monday, saying others should adopt similar strategies.

Minneapolis police officials say they're starting to train new recruits on the new policy this week and will roll out the new protocols to the rest of the department starting this fall.