As we step back and try to determine the systemic problems in our police system, we see multiple issues that need to be addressed. We have looked at racism, which we know is a huge problem. Something else that stands out to me while looking at pictures of protests, especially in Baton Rouge, are the sheer volume of military vehicles and gear being used. We find common ground with the Libertarians here, that our police force is frighteningly over-militarized. Also, the unions are protecting the bad cops to the point they generally end up with paid vacations and back on the job unless they commit the most egregious of crimes.
In viewing the videos of the latest two incidents involving Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, which I admit ripped me to shreds as they likely did most people, I also was shocked at how quickly the officers seemed to escalate the situations. It reminded me of Sandra Bland. I kept wondering what had happened earlier that day that had the guys in such a vile mood that they would be short-tempered and take it out on someone else. Obviously that would require some personality issue, but the more I thought about it, I wasn’t sure that was enough. This happens too frequently. All these things just do not make sense.
Now we have another piece of the puzzle in the case of Philando Castile, and I think it is a big one. Training. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, took three courses from Calibre, owned by Lifeline Training, during his four years on the St. Anthony Police Force.
- Twenty Hours: (2012) Different Organization Officer Survival
- Twenty Hours: (2013) Bulletproof Warrior
- Twenty Hours: (2014) Street Survival
- Two Hours: (2016) De-escalation
That is 62 hours of training, and only two of it is devoted to decreasing the insanity of a situation. The other 60 is tactical survival mode.These classes have come under fire in some circles, for being too militaristic, contributing too much to the current problems we have today, and led to departments like the Houston PD not participating. The leader of the international police training association has said he feels these types of classes contribute to officer paranoia.
A man went in undercover to see what the training courses were like. He reported to Star Tribune:
He said he was horrified. He said he expected to see a presentation about understanding both how to avoid using deadly force as well as how to realize when it’s unavoidable. Czech said the course consistently emphasized the risk of hesitation.
On the second day, the group watched the shootout videos. One is the particularly gruesome dashcam video of Andrew Brannan pulling over in his white truck in Georgia in 1998 and then shooting Deputy Kyle Dinkheller to death.
“Every time a video came up where the officer hesitated, he would stop and he would say ‘This is a point where there should have been a reaction, he should have engaged,’ ” Czech said.
The owner disputes this, naturally. He thinks the classes prepare the officers appropriately. However, with the current state of a mess we have, I certainly think this needs to be part of the national discourse.