In a political and economic environment where Law Enforcement training funds are in short supply, the Minneapolis Police Dept has banned, what they are calling, “Warrior”-style training. Officers are now prohibited from partaking of such training on their own time and dime. I don’t know, exactly, how Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is defining “Warrior” training but, I have a couple ideas.
In an April 19, 2019 press conference, Frey pressed all the emotional hot-buttons by using terminology like “fear-based” training, “warrior-style”, and “Killology” (a theory popularized by LTC (Ret) Dave Grossman). Further, he went on to say that, “Fear-based trainings violate the values at the very heart of community policing. When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build meaningful relationships with those same people.”
Very nice, Mr Mayor. You have mastered pandering and anti-intellectual, political posturing. And, at the same time emphasized an “us vs them” attitude between your police and the citizenry.
Minneapolis (and it’s sister, St Paul) is a town where violent crime is on the rise, traditional demographics are being noticeably shifted, and Law Enforcement training funds are slim. Under those circumstances, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Police Officers to feel like they may need a training edge. Be it in terms of physical/technical skills or psychological preparation for worst case scenarios. Further, the fact that some officers take it upon themselves to seek such advantage, outside the bureaucracy, displays admirable initiative.
As I see it, Police Depts are being increasingly tasked with what are arguably tactical, “paramilitary” roles as opposed to the romanticized (possibly antiquated) version of community policing. And, when you start to cross that line, the psychology has to change.
So, in essence, the mayor can’t have it both ways. None of us live in Mayberry, USA any longer, and politics are amplifying the shift away from that piece of Americana. And, since he created his narrative using words, for the most part, that aren’t defined, let’s look at the one specific example he cited. “Killology”.
“Killology”, as mentioned above, is a theory and field of study invented by LTC (Ret) Dave Grossman. Per Grossman, Killology “is the study of the psychological and physiological effects of killing and combat on the human psyche; and the factors that enable and restrain a combatant’s killing of others in these situations.” The theory was introduced in Grossman’s 1996 book, “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society”.
The problem (yes, I said problem and didn’t sugarcoat the term for modern, politically-correct readers who prefer the use of the word “challenge”) is that Grossman’s writings are focused on “combatants”. Traditionally known as “soldiers”. Not, police specifically. However, due to the evolving nature and paramilitarization of police work… we are asking our police to engage in situations where that sort of mindset can be necessary. And, in my opinion, the circumstances driving those evolving and overlapping professional scopes is (drumroll, please), politics. Further politicizing the problem is not the answer. Einstein’s old mantra comes to mind…
No matter how you feel about it, the face of “America” is changing. And, not for the better. There is a cultural assault being mounted on what, only 15 or 20 years ago, would have been considered normalcy. And, that assault is increasingly violent and in some cases, borderline military. So, to cling to Rules of Engagement from a time and situation past, while politically promoting and amplifying change and “progress, is a non-starter.
I don’t like, at all, that police are being forced into a militarized situation and mindset. I think it’s unhealthy. For the police and their communities. In that, I agree with the Mayor. He and I part ways on the practical reality of the thing.
To my mind, the answer isn’t telling police officers what training they can and cannot partake of on their own time and with their own money. The answer is to stop promoting the cultural changes that necessitate a militarized response (and a need to survive), stop creating a divide between your constituents and your police depts, and fund police training they need to do the job we’re asking them to do in the way we’re asking them to do it.
And, maybe that training balance is achieved by educating the Administrators and Bureaucrats (those who hold the purse strings) about the training options offered by professional companies, like Distributed Security, Inc and not simply leaving our police officers to be consumers of (at best) battlefield psychology training and (at worst) the former-knucklegdragger, “Bro culture” training industry.
Shut up and train.