Police union head Bob Kroll backs out of scheduled WCCO interview in 'stunt'


(WCCO) Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis Police Federation, has been accused of fostering a toxic environment in the union that represents more than 800 police officers.

Kroll was scheduled to call into WCCO's Chad Hartman show on Tuesday to tell his side of the story.

And then he didn't.

Instead, a Kroll representative called the show within moments of his planned appearance and said he had been double booked and wouldn't be on.

"First we received the confirmation, mid-morning confirmation that we were all set ... Then we heard we also had to have on (union director) Rich Walker ... And then they decide to do what is a stunt. I don't buy for a second that all of a sudden Bob Kroll was booked," Hartman explained.

He added: "To think that he's chuckling about this, he just looks silly to me. Mr. Tough Guy doesn't want to answer questions ... I was going to give him the opportunity to respond to what has been said on this show." 

Kroll is the subject of at least 29 complaints from civilians and is at the center of ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd's death on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. The eyes of the world saw Floyd say, "I can't breathe," while Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of his neck for 8 minutes, 46, seconds. In response, a wave of Black Lives Matter protests swept the country.

On Friday evening, a crowd of more than 1,000 protested outside the union headquarters against Kroll, one of several protests that has specifically targeted the entity that some believe has shielded dangerous and racist cops. A month ago, former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told Hartman that Kroll, at the epicenter of that atmosphere, needs to go. 

"We've never had a person leading the federation who is as bombastic, who is as overtly racist, who is as likely to provide comfort to someone when they do something wrong, who is as central to that toxic culture as Bob Kroll," Rybak told WCCO.  "And it is time to name names: Bob Kroll is a cancer on this police department, on this city."

In the same vein, Steve Fletcher, a Minneapolis city councilman and frequent Police Department critic, told the New York Times the union is so powerful -- and vengeful -- that when he sought to divert money away from hiring officers and toward a newly created office of violence prevention, police stopped responding as quickly to 911 calls placed by his constituents. “It operates a little bit like a protection racket,” Fletcher said of the union.

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo told “60 Minutes” over the weekend that the union, and Kroll specifically, is a barrier to reform. Earlier this month, the chief withdrew from contract negotiations with the union.

Kroll did manage to talk to Gayle King of CBS This Morning on Tuesday morning where he said he wants to be part of the police reform, and denied there was systemic racism in the department. When King asked about the actions of ex-officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder in Floyd’s fatal arrest, Kroll said the body camera video may provide “more to the story.”

“I think the first thing we need to do is sit down with community leaders and listen,” Kroll told King. He did not detail any specific reform policy, though previously he criticized Barack Obama's administration for “oppression of police,” and praised President Donald Trump as someone who “put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of us.” 

What does Kroll have to say about efforts to defund the Minneapolis Police Department? What reforms would he support? The answer is radio silence, at least on WCCO.