EXCLUSIVE: Bloomington police chief talks about fighting crime — and winning

Chief Booker Hodges pushed back on Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty's efforts to paint police with a "broad brush," saying he "can't allow" the "false narrative" to continue.

Bloomington Police Chief talks with reporter Liz Collin on her podcast. (Alpha News)

Many law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota and the Midwest have been plagued by sky-rocketing crime, low morale, and recruiting troubles. Yet Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges seems to have defied the odds: crime is down, his officers are working hard to keep up public safety, and plenty of officers seem eager for a chance to work there.

During an interview on Liz Collin Reports, Chief Hodges talked about the problems and solutions regarding crime and law enforcement leadership and perhaps one of the most overlooked and most important aspects of public safety: the people.

Chief Hodges explained how “people often forget when you talk about crime rates — yes, police officers, we do have an impact on crime — but ultimately it’s the people in this city that are deciding to obey the laws that we all agree that we need it as a society.”

Effective policing: Shared values and mutual respect

Chief Hodges pinpointed a key aspect that seems to be working in Bloomington: respect.

“People want police officers who have character and values. In Bloomington, we’re fortunate enough to come together as a community and come up with a set of shared values. And ultimately it came down to the overarching value being respect,” he explained.

Along with mutual respect, mutual support seems to be making a difference as well. Hodges explained how the Bloomington community has helped with police officer recruitment and retention. “In our police department, we are not only fully staffed … we’ve been overstaffed for about six months,” he said.

Chief Hodges said the Bloomington Police Department, unlike other departments in Minnesota, has actually been fully staffed for the past 18 months. He again attributed this to the outstanding support of people who live and work in Bloomington. “Being the fourth largest police department in the state, that says something not only for the way we do business, I think, but also it says something for our community here,” he said.

Politics and public safety

Aside from talking about people, Hodges also pointed out how politics unfortunately tend to get in the way of public safety — and how once again, things are different in Bloomington. “Our police officers here know that our politicians support our police department. Now, does that mean blind support? No, I mean, no police department expects blind support, but our politicians here do support our police department.”

However, while Bloomington officials may support local law enforcement, Chief Hodges also talked about how that’s not the case throughout all levels of government, or even in Hennepin County.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty recently held a press conference to announce that murder charges against Minnesota State Trooper Ryan Londregan would be dropped — and to criticize law enforcement.

Chief Hodges called out her criticism, saying that “to continue this narrative that all police officers are subscribers to white supremacy is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t subscribe to white supremacy. The officers that work here don’t subscribe to white supremacy.”

Hodges also talked about how such rhetoric affects law enforcement and public safety. “I can’t overstate the damage that has been done between the county attorney and law enforcement. And it has nothing to do with us philosophically disagreeing with her. It has to do with the fact that you just paint everybody in this profession with a broad brush. That’s just not true.”

Speaking up for law enforcement — and speaking out against crime

According to Hodges, anti-cop rhetoric doesn’t just affect police officers, it ultimately affects public safety and the public. He explained that’s why he’s been speaking up and showing support for police officers and sharing his criticism of criminals.

“So here’s what it comes down to for me … we didn’t get to where we got with this perceived or actual break with law enforcement and community overnight. Systematically, people have stood on TV and called us white supremacists, said we go out here and just kill people for no reason. We do all these bad things. And for years, no one in these positions who have these stars said anything. So when you’re quiet, people assume that what that person is saying is true,” Chief Hodges explained.

“So for me, I want to tell the truth about this profession. Are we perfect? No, absolutely not. We are never going to be perfect. And I tell my cops all the time, it is an unrealistic expectation for us to be perfect. I’m not going to be perfect. But when we sit here and say nothing and allow this false narrative to go on, I can’t allow that.”

Hodges also talked about speaking his mind when it comes to crime and criminal behavior in Bloomington and the matter-of-fact and often hilarious videos he publishes on social media to keep the public informed.

His videos are informative and entertaining, but Chief Hodges has a serious message about what matters most for the Bloomington Police Department and effective public safety. Ultimately, for Hodges, it’s a matter of mutual respect: “We have to get back to respecting each other … absent that, we’re gonna continue this downward spiral.”


Liz Collin

Liz Collin has been a truth-teller for 20 years as a multi-Emmy-Award-winning reporter and anchor. Liz is a Worthington, Minnesota native who lives in the suburbs with her husband, son and loyal lab.