Libor Jany Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
MINNEAPOLIS — In open defiance of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, the union that represents the city’s roughly 900 rank-and-file police officers announced that it is partnering with a national police organization to offer free “warrior-style” training for any officer who wants it.
According to a news release posted to the website The Law Officer, the free online training — valued at $55,000 a year — is offered to officers for as long as Frey remains mayor. The training, which covers a range of issues, from “officer survival” and leadership to fitness and de-escalation, was designed to ensure that officers could “return home each day to their family regardless of the dangers that they may face and the ignorance of some politicians,” the release said.
The announcement comes in response to Frey’s ban of the popular training style, which he first revealed in his State of the City address last week. Frey said at the time that Minneapolis would become the first department in the country to eliminate “fear-based” training.
Trainings rooted in fear, he said, “violate the values at the very heart of community policing.” His comments come as law enforcement tactics are under increasing scrutiny following a series of high-profile deaths of civilians at the hands of police around the country.
Many policing agencies, including Minneapolis, have started moving toward “guardian”-oriented tactics, which emphasize de-escalating potentially tense situations and consider deadly force as a last resort. But opponents of this approach argue that such techniques endanger officers’ lives by teaching them to put their guard down.
Officers who violate the new ban and attended such classes outside of work could be disciplined, city leaders said.
Frey doubled down on that sentiment on Wednesday.
“We have adopted this new policy because proper training on use of force and de-escalation is of paramount importance,” he said in a statement released through a spokesman. “Officers found to pursue any training that conflicts with MPD’s training and has not been preapproved will be subject to discipline.”
Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Lt. Bob Kroll was undeterred on Wednesday, saying in an interview that he consulted with the police union’s attorneys, who said Frey’s directive was unlawful. Kroll also defended the training, saying “it’s not about killing, it’s about surviving.”
In a video accompanying the news release, Travis Yates, Law Officer’s director of training, said Frey’s order was personal.
“A man that wants to ban this type of training, that has never been to this type of training also expects his officers to run towards gunfire to protect the lives of the citizens of Minneapolis,” Yates said.
MPD spokesperson Sgt. Darcy Horn said that she hadn’t had a chance to discuss the announcement with Chief Medaria Arradondo.
The style of training most recently came under scrutiny after the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights three summers ago. Jeronimo Yanez, the former St. Anthony police officer who was later acquitted for shooting Castile, attended a two-day training course called “The Bulletproof Warrior,” which critics argue trains officers to consider everyone and everything a potential threat.
Arradondo said at the time that the department doesn’t currently train officers in such techniques. It’s unclear how many officers have undergone the training in the past.
©2019 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)