Mayor Betsy Hodges said tensions between the police union and her office -- at the heart of the #pointergate controversy -- have roots in a stark disagreement about whether police misconduct is a problem in the city.
Speaking to the Star Tribune, Hodges said some officers with a consistent pattern of misconduct have given a force comprised of many great officers a bad name. She said police union chief John Delmonico has publicly written that there "wasn't an issue to be addressed."
"The fact that he does not see that as an issue is an issue in and of itself," Hodges said.
Hodges said she has not spoken with Delmonico since he was featured in a KSTP story saying the mayor was flashing a gang sign while canvassing with an organizer.
“My goal with the union president is to have a working relationship," Hodges said. "I wouldn’t necessarily say reconciliation. Because there are things we will continue to disagree on.”
On Thursday evening, KSTP revealed more details about the organizer, Navell Gordon, including Instagram photos showing him holding a gun several months before his canvassing with the mayor.
"I can’t speak to why Navell would post those pictures or what the context of those pictures are," Hodges said. "I’ve seen the same news report you’ve seen. So I can’t speak to that."
She said the latest report speaks to the inconsistencies of the reporting, however, which initially blamed her for poor judgment for making the hand gesture.
The original story said "Mayor Hodges should have known better," Hodges said. "Then it’s 'Oh, Mayor Hodges probably didn’t know….This isn’t about [Navell] and then there’s a whole story about him."
It's unclear who leaked the photo, but it would be a violation of protocol if it was released from someone conducting an investigation. Hodges would not say definitively whether there was an investigation into who released the photo, which may not have come from MPD at all.
“The extent to which there have been policy violations within the department is the extent to which we need to know that and we need to handle that," Hodges said. "Because if there have been violations of those policies they’re subject to discipline.”
Despite her criticism of the story, Hodges said it has opened up a valuable conversation around law enforcement issues.
"It has shown a very, very bright light on the issues that we’re facing," Hodges said. "And has created a lot of community interest and pressure to keep moving forward on the efforts on community policing and police community relationships.”