Uniformed Mpls. cops in Pawlenty immigration ad stir controversy

A handful of Minneapolis police officers, including controversial police union head Bob Kroll, are making waves in the race for Minnesota governor.

A campaign mailer for Tim Pawlenty includes the Republican candidate with Kroll and seven other uniformed Minneapolis officers — badges and all — with two squads in the back.

The mailer’s text includes a quote from Pawlenty: “Our state is wasting millions on benefits for those here illegally. That’s not right.”

As the Star Tribune’s Andy Mannix points out, the ad doesn’t square with Minneapolis sanctuary city policy.

Sanctuary jurisdictions such as Minneapolis and St. Paul require their employees not to ask people for their immigration status to get city services, including policing.

Mayor Jacob Frey, who oversees the police department, isn’t happy. In a Friday statement, Frey said:

Our policy preventing MPD officers from asking about immigration status is not an advisory guideline that can be selectively ignored. It is a city law that cannot be reversed by Bob Kroll or any political candidate. They don’t speak for the city.

So let me make it clear: our separation ordinance will be enforced no matter who occupies the office of Governor or who is leading the police union. Minneapolis stands with our immigrant brothers and sisters who have, throughout our city’s history, made Minneapolis a better place to live.

The statement from Frey’s office notes that the police department doesn’t endorse political candidates, and that the sanctuary city policy is still in effect.

“All MPD [Minneapolis Police Department] members will abide by our City of Minneapolis Separation Ordinance and will not take any law enforcement action on an individual based solely on their immigration status, the statement reads. “The MPD will continue treating all community members with respect and professionalism and that is non-negotiable.”

Update at 4:30 p.m. Friday

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo weighed in Friday afternoon, too, with a statement of his own. “We will not engage in any activity that singles out an individual based solely upon their citizenship or immigration status,” the chief said.

Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder told MPR News reporter Nina Moini it’s too early to determine if any disciplinary action will be taken against any officers pictured.