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Minneapolis Police Chief Says Cops Shouldn't Have Walked Out Of WNBA Game

The officer's actions didn't "conform to the expectations held by the public," she said.
The Minnesota Lynx pregame player protest evidently offended four off-duty police officers working security at the game.&nbsp
The Minnesota Lynx pregame player protest evidently offended four off-duty police officers working security at the game. 

Minneapolis Police Department Chief Janeé Harteau released a statement on Tuesday afternoon in response to reports of four unidentified off-duty officers, hired as security guards, walking off the job during a Minnesota Lynx game on Saturday night after the players spoke out against racial profiling before tipoff. 

In a statement provided to The Huffington Post, Harteau wrote that she did not condone her officers’ actions, but understood why they were upset. 

She also stated that although the off-duty officers were working for the Lynx, not the police department, at the Target Center that night, she expected more dutiful and professional behavior from them:

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 officers, working as contracted security for the Lynx, left their posts after Lynx players held a pregame press conference to speak openly about racial profiling and the recent murders of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and five Dallas police officers. The players also wore T-shirts featuring Castile and Sterling’s names and “Change Starts With Us” and “Black Lives Matter” graphics. The Dallas Police Department shield was also featured under Sterling’s name in a display of unity. Black or white, policeman or not, their message was clear: Racism and senseless killings in the United States will only subside if both civilians and law enforcement communicate clearly and amicably.  

“This is a human issue and we need to speak up for change, together,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said at the pregame presser. 

Lynx players delivered a powerful message on Saturday. 
Lynx players delivered a powerful message on Saturday. 

Dr. Louis Porter II, the executive director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, echoed Moore’s remarks over the phone with HuffPost.

I commend the Lynx for speaking out and taking a stand. It’s really a time for us as a community to come together and address this,” he said.

More critically, however, Porter was dismayed at the officers’ divisive actions, especially because the players’ shirts paid tribute to Dallas’ police officers. 

“Walking out of the game was not helpful and did not advance the discussion. It was counterproductive,” he concluded. 

Harteau’s and Porter’s stances on the matter sharply contrast with that of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. Lt. Bob Kroll, the union’s president, who in June called Black Lives Matter “a terrorist organization,” commended the officers for walking out. 

If [players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there,” he said to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in a report published on Tuesday.  

Going even further, Kroll disparaged the WNBA franchise, saying, “They only have four officers working the event, because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.” 

Reached by email on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department was unable to comment on any potential discipline for the officers or Kroll’s suggestion that all officers may stop working at the Target Center. The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis did not immediately return a request for comment from Lt. Kroll. 

Chief Harteau’s full statement can be read below:

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. 

Watch the entire Minnesota Lynx press conference above.

HuffPost

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