Shakopee Police Chief addresses misleading political ad that uses SPD photo

Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate is reminding voters that the Shakopee Police Department does not endorse candidates after a political advertisement implied the local police have endorsed Minnesota House candidate Erik Mortensen.

The political ad in question was paid for and released by the Freedom Club, a state political action committee that supports conservative principles.

“The Shakopee Police Department does not endorse candidates,” Tate said Friday. “We have made no endorsement, nor will we make an endorsement. We do not get involved.”

In the ad, a group photo of the Shakopee police appears on screen as the narrator says Mortensen has “gained the trust and endorsement of our police.”

“The endorsement that Mortensen got was from the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA),” Tate said. “We realize our image was used, but that’s the image from our Facebook page and website.”

MPPOA is a professional association that originally endorsed incumbent Democrat Rep. Brad Tabke before ultimately endorsing Mortensen on Sept. 10.

MPPOA pulled its endorsements of all DFL candidates who declined to denounce the behavior of House candidate John Thompson, of St. Paul, at a September Black Lives Matter rally outside the home of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll. Thompson was filmed at the rally yelling and swearing at nearby counter-protestors, saying “blue lives ain’t s—” and “f— Hugo.”

Thompson later apologized for the “inflammatory rhetoric.”

“It’s too bad Democrat allies of Brad Tabke in the media try to run cover for him with stories like this after he lost the endorsement of the MPPOA because Tabke refused, and still refuses to this day, to denounce his colleague who called to burn down Hugo and other cities in Minnesota,” Mortensen said in a written statement when contacted for comment about the Freedom Club advertisement. “This is just a distraction from Brad Tabke’s failed leadership to not listen or care about constituent’s concerns as he crams through policies they completely disagree with.”

Tabke said in a Facebook Live video last month that he has not denounced Thompson’s behavior because he doesn’t know Thompson, nor has he ever endorsed him.

“What he said was not OK and it should never have been said, but I’ve never met him before, he has not been in my circle, I have not endorsed him, I don’t know anything about who he is as a person,” Tabke said. “It’s really important to me that I get to know someone first before I start spouting off in public and denouncing people. I think it’s the human thing to do, to make sure that we are understanding before we say things publicly that are going over edge.”

Though nearly every Shakopee police officer, excluding Tate, is a member of MPPOA, Tate said the Shakopee Police Department considers itself apolitical and prefers to distance itself from involvement in politics.

“It’s vitally important that law enforcement stay apolitical. We have to work with whoever wins. As a public agency we’re not going to endorse, just like state agencies are prohibited from endorsing,” Tate said.

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