Minnesota governor bans “warrior training”, handcuffs police. Is it his goal to get good cops killed?

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This editorial is brought to you by a former Chief of Police and staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

ST. PAUL, MN – In May after the death of George Floyd, both Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz stood by while Minneapolis burned.

It was Frey who ordered Minneapolis police to abandon their 3rd Precinct headquarters building so that violent looters and rioters could burn it to the ground. Leadership. That is what men who are in charge show in times of crisis.

Unfortunately for Minneapolis residents, neither their mayor nor their governor show any leadership. Walz was, however, quick to sign on to the anti-police bandwagon, cementing that legacy on Thursday when he signed into law the Minnesota Police Accountability Act.

 

“Every single person, every single Minnesotan deserves to feel safe and protected in their communities,” Walz said during the signing ceremony Thursday morning. “This bipartisan piece of legislation moves us towards a critical step towards criminal justice reform.”

 ABC News reported that one of the facets of the bill bans so-called “warrior-style training,” which the Minnesota legislature defined as “training for peace officers that is intended to increase a peace officer’s likelihood or willingness to use deadly force in encounters with community members.”

The ban only applies to police agencies providing such training and does not prevent an officer from privately obtaining such training. However, any officer who did so would not receive education credits or tuition reimbursement from their agencies.

The law also prohibits police officers from performing chokeholds, “hog-tying” of arrestees, defined as tying “all of a person’s limbs together behind the person’s back to render the person immobile, or securing “a person in any way that results in transporting the person face-down in a vehicle.”

The police reform act was drafted by the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus and is designed to hold police officers “accountable for harmful acts perpetrated on members of the community in the line of duty,” according to WCCO.

Of course, not everyone was happy with the bill. The ACLU, which would probably prefer the outright abolition of police altogether, said the bill did not go far enough.

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“The reform and the legislation doesn’t go far enough to really end radicalized policing and over policing of black and brown communities,” said Mike Elliott, a board member of the ACLU and mayor of Brooklyn Center. “It does not include a special prosecutor to oversee these cases when police kill someone, and I think that is incredibly important to have.”

“Lawmakers need to sit down with community members and we need a real coming together this moment calls for the very best in all of us and we have to put aside our differences and we have to make right the whole entire world is watching us,” he said.

Walz agreed, saying that this isn’t the end of work that needs to be done. Some leaders in the community agreed, noting that they are looking to see open dialogue between lawmakers, law enforcement and the community to ensure the law protects all Minnesota residents.

“I do think it’s a Band-Aid over a bigger problem, but I hope in the long run that the community starts to feel like our chief is trying to reform the police department,” said Jamar Nelson, an activist with the group A Mother’s Love.

“The police department has to be reflective of the community it serves. I think this is a small step in the right direction, but I think there has to be ongoing communication with black and brown people in the community.”

Legislators made sure to point out that the reform law did not defund, dismantle, or otherwise impede the ability of police officers to do their job.

There was also a compromise over a proposal to force officers to reside in the city in which they work. Cities and counties could offer incentives, property tax breaks or fix-up loans to encourage officers to live in the communities they work in, however they will not be forced to do so. 

People in the police training community disagree with the proposal to outlaw the so-called “warrior” training, which is clearly a subjective statement. 

We reached out to Jim Glennon, Owner of Calibre Press, which is one of the foremost training resources in the country for police officers. He noted that the definition of “warrior style training” is as follows:

“Training for peace officers that dehumanizes people or encourages aggressive conduct by peace officers during encounters with others in a manner that deemphasizes the value of human life or constitutional rights, the result of which increases a peace officer’s likelihood to use deadly force.” 

Glennon told Law Enforcement Today: 

“Under the definition set forward by the act, I know of no training that ‘encourages aggressive conduct by peace officers during encounters with others in a manner that deemphasizes the value of human life or constitutional rights.’ What type of training out there now ‘increases a peace officer’s likelihood or willingness to use deadly force?’

“Does understanding the science of human performance and speed of movement with a gun constitute training that would increase the ‘likelihood or willingness to use deadly force’ by a police officer” Is educating officers in body language, human behavior and in the recognition of pre-assault indicators a violation of the act? 

“The training Calibre Press does, such as Implicit Bias, How to Predict Violence and Influence Outcomes as well as Legally Justified, But Was it Avoidable, addresses the wide spectrum, complexities and danger of human to human interaction. Every training I know of, teach and have been a part of teaches officers to value lives and avoid force at all costs. None teach that everyone is ‘out to kill you’ contrary to what many activists and politicians apparently believe.” 

Kevin Dillon, a retired Wethersfield, CT lieutenant is one of the foremost police trainers in the country. Dillon is a 25-year veteran law enforcement officer who graduated from the FBI National Academy. His resume in the police training and defensive tactics field is second to none.

Dillon has been an instructor of SWAT and police fighting tactics since 1988, and developed a system called L.O.C.K.U.P. which helps officers use gross motor skill concepts to reduce injuries to citizens and police officers. This system is evidence based, has been court tested and is consistent with established practices and court decisions on police use of force. 

Dillon vehemently disagrees with utilization of “warrior” terminology and making the jump that such training leads to aggressiveness in law enforcement training. The so-called “warrior mindset” terminology is used when facing deadly force and allows both the officer and the arrestee the ability to survive the encounter. 

The warrior mindset is also what educates law enforcement officers that in cases such as mass shootings that you as police officer run toward the gunfire, not away as everyone else does. 

Dillon said:

“Law enforcement handles approximately 200 million calls for service a year, 63 million face-to-face contacts , 10 million arrests, with only 2,000 injuries. Less than 1,000 people are shot and killed by police out of those 200 million calls for service.” 

What legislators and police departments nationwide should be emphasizing is just the type of tactical training that is offered by people such as Kevin Dillon and Calibre Press. Clearly, had officers in Minneapolis been afforded such training, the whole George Floyd thing would have likely been avoided. 

Instead of banning so-called “warrior” training, legislators should be embracing it. As Dillon’s program has proven, utilization of correct techniques has the ability to reduce officer injuries as well as those of citizens. 

As long as there are pandering politicians desperate for acceptance, however we will see more acts like this one, the one recently passed by the House in Connecticut and the one passed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

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