Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges brings props, punchlines to press conferences

With a plethora of mugshots, jail uniforms used as props and a healthy dose of "tough talk," Police Chief Booker Hodges is doing things differently in Bloomington - especially when it comes to his press conferences.

On a recent video for social media, he even dressed up a mugshot of the Hamburglar in an orange jumpsuit when discussing catalytic converter thefts.

Sworn in as chief this spring, Hodges tells FOX 9 one of his priorities was effective and clear communication with the public and the media. His press conferences are one way to accomplish that.

"When we [law enforcement] stand up in front of a microphone, you get this robot... 'suspect did this, at such and such hour'... it's blah. It's boring," said Hodges. "I'm not saying, 'Well if you do this, you might get incarcerated.' No. If you come here and break the law, we are going to lock you up."

It's not just about calling attention to criminals, but to the victims of crimes, too. That's something Hodges knows personally.

"My mom died when I was 12 years old. I cannot remember a single day when my mom was alive that my dad didn't beat her. We don't focus on victims," said Hodges.

That commitment to victims led him to a career in law enforcement, but it wasn't always easy getting there. 

Hodges graduated from high school with a fourth grade reading level and was kicked out of college during his first year. He returned and ended up earning his Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate Degrees.

Hodges went on to work for Dakota and Ramsey Counties, later serving as Prior Lake Police Chief and Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Safety before coming to Bloomington, the department he insists he will retire from.

Throughout his tenure, he says he's committed to holding people accountable when they commit a crime and believes that will be key in deterring crime in the first place.

"We've tried locking everybody up. That didn't work. We've tried letting everybody go and right now, we are in the middle of what it looks like... What we do here in Bloomington is... You break the law? Yeah, we are going to lock you up, but we are going to get you the help you need to turn your life around if you want to do that," said Hodges.