Union: ‘Decorated’ cops showed respect in STP skyway arrest

The St. Paul Police Federation, the police union, is disputing the assertion that police officers were at fault in the arrest of an African American man who was sitting in chairs in the St. Paul skyway.

The video of Chris Lollie’s arrest in January, which was released this week (available here), has prompted a call for a review of the incident from Saint Paul mayor Chris Coleman.

In a statement released today, union president Dave Titus said he stands behind the officers involved.

The St. Paul Police Federation stands by the three officers involved in the January 31st arrest of Christopher Lollie. The officers involved acted responsibly, respectfully and in accordance with the high professional standards we expect from our members. “We do not choose what calls we respond to, and we do not have the luxury of having all of the information prior to arrival. The three very experienced and decorated officers responding to this call repeatedly attempted to determine the level of threat presented by Mr. Lollie and to deescalate the situation. The outcome of this arrest was determined by Mr. Lollie himself. He refused numerous lawful orders for an extended period of time. The only person who brought race into this situation was Mr. Lollie.”

The officers involved in this case collectively have over 70 years of law enforcement experience, received over 80 commendations, thank-yous or other forms of recognition, and only two reprimands. “Officers Michael Johnson, Bruce Schmidt and Lori Hayne are the types of officers any department would be proud to have on staff. Its unfortunate to see the professionalism of such decorated, dedicated officers called into question but we are confident in their work and stand with them.”

St. Paul Police Officers have tremendous relationships with the residents of St. Paul. Residents recognize our efforts everyday to help maintain safe neighbors throughout the city. Our officers work with groups like the St. Paul Athletic League, Safe City Nights and National Night Out to bring St. Paul residents and officers closer together. The Federation welcomes a review of the events on January 31st by the Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC) and feels confident such a review will continue to strengthen the relationships police officers already hold.

“Some of the Mayor’s statements regarding this arrest were inflammatory and could potentially and unnecessarily create an unsafe climate for residents and officers alike. The comparisons he makes do not reflect the already solid relationships that exist here and could be detrimental to our on-going efforts to build even stronger ties. The Federation looks forward to working with the community and continuing to bolster our relationships throughout the city.”