Bob Kroll responds to the racist Christmas tree and the controversy surrounding the Fourth Precinct

"Inspector Baird was a good inspector."

Susie Jones
December 10, 2018 - 12:00 pm

The head of the Minneapolis Police union responded for the first time about the leadership changes in the Fourth Precinct after a Christmas tree was put up, decorated with items that many deemed racist.

Some of the items included on the tree were Newport cigarettes, malt liquor, and a Popeye’s Chicken cup, along with police tape. It was taken down after an outcry from the public.

The two officers involved said it was a prank. They were placed on paid administrative leave, and the Fourth Precinct Inspector, Aaron Baird was removed from his post,

"Inspector Baird was a good inspector," said Lt. Bob Kroll who is president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. "The officers liked working for him. The morale was good there."

He told WCCO radio's Roshini Rajkumar that the investigation has to run its course and it remains to be seen what more changes will come.

"I don't know how far-reaching and what more changes are going to come out of this investigation but that's totally within the chief's purview. He's appointed and we serve at the pleasure. You need a strong leader there."

Community leaders have called for the two officers to be fired, saying the items on the tree were offensive and hurtful

"I think it was a combination of things," said Chauntyll Allen with Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, "Our tax dollars went into decorating that tree."

On Friday, members of the community in North Minneapolis gathered to decorate a new tree.

"This is really just a start," she said.

Chief Medaria Arradondo also attended the tree decorating event.

"It set us back," he said regarding the controversial tree. "This doesn't represent us as a north side community, I know that."

Assistant Chief Mike Kjos, who previously served as the precinct's commander, has taken over day-to-day operations until a replacement is found.