Larry Craig

Officer who arrested Craig has solid reputation

MINNEAPOLIS — Sgt. Dave Karsnia shielded the men he arrested in the airport bathroom from embarrassment.

After he flashed a badge, he would point silently to the exit. When one man said his wife was waiting at a gate, Karsnia called for a citation book to spare the man a trip to the airport police station.

And when his bathroom stings netted a U.S. senator from Idaho, he even promised him, "I don't call media."

That promise — which Karsnia seems to have kept — didn't do Sen. Larry Craig much good.

Craig's arrest was surely the biggest of Karsnia's career, but it was only one of more than a dozen he made in the Minneapolis airport's restrooms this summer.

Just 29, his record has been that of a rising young officer. He joined the Minneapolis Airport Police in 2000 as a community services officer, just out of college. Three years later, he was named the department's Officer of the Year, and in 2005 he was promoted to sergeant. Last year, he finished his master's degree.

The last time Karsnia was in the media spotlight, it was because of his efforts to get speeding electric carts carrying passengers and luggage at the airport to slow down.

The issue came to light last year when a young boy was run over and dragged by a cart and suffered a second-degree carpet burn.

Karsnia was in charge of cart enforcement at the time. That got him on ABC's "Good Morning America" earlier this year.

He's not talking anymore. This week, he was friendly and businesslike in returning a call to The Associated Press but declined an interview, saying, "My chief would kill me."

The Metropolitan Airports Commission has declined to make Karsnia or the police chief available for interviews.

In his arrest reports, which were released by the police department, Karsnia typically detailed motioning suspects to a private spot where he could explain the arrest.

Often, he asked the men for suggestions for solving the lewd conduct problem at the airport. (One suggested lower stall dividers and more police presence.)

He chatted with one of them, a Canadian, about the upcoming Canada Day holiday. Karsnia noted in his report that the man was polite and cooperative.

His audiotaped interview with Craig, also released by the department, started in a similar vein.

But Karsnia grew more heated in the interview's final minutes as Craig continued to deny that he had done anything to signal he was looking for sex.

Accusing Craig of failing to tell the truth, Karsnia told the senator: "I guess I'm just saying I'm just disappointed in you, sir. I just really am. I expect this from the guy we get out of the 'hood. I mean people vote for you. Unbelievable."

Later, he added: "Embarrassing. Embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes," and closed the interview.

Karsnia grew up in International Falls, on the Canadian border, where he received a 2-year degree at a community college.

He got a bachelor's degree in 2000 in law enforcement at St. Mary's University in Winona. Last year, he earned a master's degree in criminal justice, leadership and education at Concordia University in St. Paul.