Harteau critical of cops who left Lynx game

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau released a statement Tuesday expressing disappointment about the conduct of four off-duty Minneapolis police officers who left the Lynx game Saturday because they were upset about players wearing warm-up T-shirts honoring recent shooting victims.

On the front, the shirts read: “Change starts with us. Justice & Accountability.” On the back, the shirts had the Dallas Police Department logo and the names of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and Black Lives Matter.

Here is Harteau’s statement:

“While I do not condone the actions of the officers, I realize how every member of law enforcement throughout this country, including myself, is feeling right now.   Everyone is hurting and we all need to find a way to come together.  I am proud of our profession and the service our officers provide on a daily basis.  Accountability is a must but police officers also deserve and need public support.

Although these officers were working on behalf of the Lynx, when wearing a Minneapolis Police uniform I expect all officers to adhere to our core values and to honor their oath of office. Walking off the job and defaulting on their contractual obligation to provide a service to the Lynx does not conform to the expectations held by the public for the uniform these officers wear.

The MPD is a progressive Department leading the way on many 21st Century Policing initiatives such as equipping our officers with a community support team and body worn cameras. We have also provided all of our officers with fair and impartial policing training, procedural justice training, and de-escalation and crisis intervention training.

I believe every cop wants what every American wants: a safe place to live.  We are all in this together, and in the days and weeks ahead, I’m hopeful that common goal will guide the work that leads us to a better place.”

The Minnesota Lynx also issued a statement about the actions of the off-duty police officers: “While our players message mourned the loss of life due to last week’s shootings, we respect the right of those individual officers to express their own beliefs in their own way. At no time was the safety of our game in question as Target Center staffs extra personnel for each and every game. The Lynx and the entire WNBA have been saddened by the recent shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and St. Paul. We continue to urge a constructive discussion about the issues raised by these tragedies.”

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the union for police officers, told the Star Tribune that he commends the officers who left the game and said the team has a “pathetic draw.”

Mayor Betsy Hodges offered blunt remarks about Kroll’s comments: “Bob Kroll’s remarks about the Lynx are jackass remarks. Let me be clear: labor leadership inherently does not speak on behalf of management. Bob Kroll sure as hell doesn’t speak for me about the Lynx or about anything else.”