Under-fire Minneapolis Police Officers Federation president Lt. Bob Kroll appeared at a political campaign event Monday for U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis.
Kroll, who has been under pressure to resign from his post since the death of George Floyd during an arrest in May, has regularly endorsed Republican candidates during his tenure as union chief, backing Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow in 2018, and appearing on stage with President Donald Trump at a rally at Target Center last October.
On Monday, he appeared at a "Back the Blue" event for Lewis along with several other law enforcement representatives, with much on the focus on the protests and riots that followed the death of Floyd, over which four officers were fired and charged with murder and aiding-and-abetting murder.
Kroll said that the "one thing Minneapolis regrets and what bothers them most is that they weren’t allowed to stop those riots that were going on."
He claims that "politicians above them" restricted the police response, although officers did fire rubber bullets and deploy tear gas and chemical irritant during clashes with protesters, with Amnesty International identifying several instances of alleged human rights violations by law enforcement over the course of the civil unrest.
Kroll has been increasingly outspoken in recent weeks as he defends Minneapolis police amid calls for greater accountability and a reduction in officer numbers and funding.
His home in Hugo, Minnesota has also been the target of protests by activists, who were criticized for making and destroying a pinata depicting him and his wife, WCCO report Liz Collin.
Did Kroll breach department uniform policy?
His appearance in full uniform is potentially a breach of department policy, which was implemented ahead of the Trump rally and to which Kroll objected.
The Minneapolis Police Department policy states that police uniforms or trademarks cannot be used in political advertisements or "be used in any other way that could lead a reasonable person to believe the MPD is endorsing a political party, candidate, or campaign."
Kroll complied at the Trump rally, sporting instead a "Cops for Trump" shirt that the Police Federation created in response to the new policy.
He was also criticized in September 2018 by the Minnesota DFL after appearing at a rally for former U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen wearing full uniform, which the party argued was a violation of the Hatch Act that prohibits state and local officers from engaging in "partisan political activity."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also criticized Kroll in 2018 when he appeared in uniform along with several other officers as they endorsed then Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty.
Jason Lewis is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Tina Smith in this November's election.
BMTN has reached out to Minneapolis Police Department and the Police Officers Federation for further comment.