MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The head of the Minneapolis police union, frequently attacked by opponents after George Floyd’s death as an obstacle to needed changes in the department, said Monday he is retiring.
Lt. Bob Kroll confirmed the announcement in a text to The Associated Press. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for an interview.
In a letter to union members obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Kroll said he had planned to retire in May.
“After reviewing the bigger picture, it is in my family’s best interest for me to retire four months early,” Kroll said.
Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
After Floyd’s death, activists called for change in the Minneapolis Police Department, criticizing what they called a brutal culture that had long resisted change. Kroll, as the face of the union, built a reputation as a fierce defender of union members and frequently skirmished both with city and police leaders.
Kroll frequently complained that police officers were unfairly criticized, and he renewed that in his letter Monday.
“The toughest part of the job was witnessing the scrutiny and criticism (we) as professionals have endured from those who do not walk in our shoes. Yet these people turned into self-proclaimed experts into every aspect of our line of work,” he wrote in the letter, according to the Star Tribune. “The low point of my career has been watching this occur over the last three decades and how weak administrations pandered to armchair quarterbacks and didn’t fight for hardworking public servants who wear the badge.”
Mayor Jacob Frey and Kroll skirmished over several issues, including when Frey told officers they could not appear in uniform at political events. That prompted Kroll to make T-shirts supporting President Donald Trump; Kroll and other officers also appeared alongside Trump at a Minnesota rally in 2019.
“Good riddance,” Frey tweeted Monday.