The Minneapolis Police Federation and Mayor Jacob Frey accused each other of misrepresenting an agreement the union reached with the police chief this week, capping a contentious week over the mayor’s effort to assert control over officer training.
The dispute centers on a new policy prohibiting officers from participating in warrior-style instruction — training that emphasizes ever-present threats and officer survival — even while off-duty.
The policy, which Frey announced last week at his State of the City address, requires officers to get approval before enrolling in any use-of-force training outside the department. Frey said all training deemed “fear-based” would be rejected by police leadership, and any officer caught attending anyway would face discipline.
The union responded this week by openly defying the mayor. The federation, which represents roughly 900 rank-and-file officers, announced a partnership with Law Officer, a national police organization, to offer free warrior-style training for officers — available for the remainder of Frey’s term in office. The announcement came with a statement from union President Lt. Bob Kroll, who said he was “proud to embrace” the warrior training.
On Friday morning, it seemed the dispute was settled. Frey told the Star Tribune that Kroll had come around to his terms after a meeting with Chief Medaria Arradondo. The mayor later held a news conference to announce the resolution. “As of yesterday, the federation will be fully complying with the policy,” Frey said.
Later Friday, the union released a statement denying Frey’s characterization of the meeting between Kroll and Arradondo.
“Mayor Frey misrepresented the terms of the agreement in what appears to be an attempt to save face and get the last word in,” the statement said.
According to the union, they agreed that no officers would be disciplined for attending off-duty training for now. They discussed an upcoming training seminar the union is offering to officers, to which the union invited Frey and City Council members to better understand what “they are labeling as ‘warrior or fear based’ training,” the union statement said.
The chief and Kroll also agreed to let the police administration vet the training offered by Law Officer, which the union believes will not conflict with the department’s training. At a news conference later, Kroll wouldn’t say how the union would respond if the administration did not approve the training.
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.
Kroll also said he doesn’t believe Frey can tell officers what they can and can’t do on their off time. “What if he tells me I can’t watch the Vikings on Sunday?” quipped Kroll.
In a statement responding to the union, Frey spokesman Mychal Vlatkovich said Kroll’s “characterization and understanding of yesterday’s meeting is entirely inconsistent with the conversations that Mayor Frey had with Lt. Kroll.” “Similarly,” he added, “it does not align with information he received from the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Police spokesman John Elder said he was present for the portion of the meeting that addressed the Law Officer training. According to Elder, Kroll said he would respect the chief’s decision on whether officers can participate in the Law Officer training.
Frey said fear-based training violates the values of community policing, and officers training in the warrior style of policing off duty will carry the same mind-set on duty.
“Learned experience is not this switch that you flip on or off,” he said. “It’s embedded in muscle memory. It becomes emotional response.”
Frey’s announcement of the new policy coincided with the continuing trial of former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor, who faces murder charges in the on-duty shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Noor testified this week that he perceived Damond as a threat to himself and his partner.