A controversial, aggressive form of training for police officers is being offered across the country. The “Warrior” training seeks to get police officers prepared to face deadly threats by equipping them with deadly tactical maneuvers. Some police departments, including the Minneapolis Police Department, have attempted to ban officers from participating in the training.
“Warrior training has become sort of a catch all for a type of training that tries to emphasize this idea that police officers need to tap into their ‘inner warrior’ their inner survival instinct,” James Densley, police training expert, told CNN. “It essentially instructs officers to treat every individual that they interact with as a potential threat,” Densley added.
“The downside of that is that cops are sort of trained to escalate rather than deescalate situations.”
Former Army Ranger Lt. Col. Dave Grossman developed “Killology” training and, according to his site, has taught across multiple levels of law enforcement over the last two decades.
According to CNN, there’s limited research showing the training style is actually effective and officers involved in high profile deadly incidents have reportedly participated in the training.
Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in 2016, took a Bulletproof Warrior training session, according to the city of Saint Anthony, Minnesota.
In the lawsuit filed by the family of George Floyd, references to the “Warrior style culture” that contributed to the deadly encounter last May.
“This whole warrior concept has no purpose, play[s] no role in American policing today,” Cedric L. Alexander, former chief of police and national policing expert, told CNN. “It does not build relationships. It keeps communities and police separated. It doesn’t make people feel comfortable in engaging the police, partnering with the police, and it certainly can be threatening,” Alexander added.
Densely said that while being a police officer can be dangerous, the “overwhelming majority” of police work doesn’t involve use of force.
Training isn’t standardized on the federal level, making widespread reform across the more than 18,000 police departments in the US difficult.
In Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey attempted to ban the warrior training in 2019, but got pushback from a police union, which eventually offered it to Minneapolis police officers for free through a third party. In July 2020, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz enacted a statewide ban on chokeholds and warrior training.
Earlier this year, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was introduced in the House as legislation to bring about reforms in American police departments.
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