Last week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made an unprecedented announcement of a ban on “fear-based” training for police officers. You’ll be shocked to hear that the local police union is now fighting back.
The Star Tribune reported on Thursday that the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis will now offer free “warrior” trainings to employees on the force. The announcement was posted to the website Law Officer, which revealed the site’s intention to provide the online training—which is valued at $55,000 a year, per the Tribune—to any officer who wishes to defy the mayor’s ban.
Frey first revealed the ban in his State of the City address last week, saying his first in the nation ban will bar officers from attending off-duty “fear-based” trainings because they “violate the values at the very heart of community policing.” The idea behind it is to shift police officers’ mindsets to a guardian mentality that focuses on de-escalation, with violence reserved as a last resort.
In a statement to the Tribune, Frey held the line, reiterating his intention to institute the ban and implement a system that requires officers to report any training seminars or sessions they attend to the department.
“We have adopted this new policy because proper training on use of force and de-escalation is of paramount importance,” the mayor said. “Officers found to pursue any training that conflicts with MPD’s training and has not been pre-approved will be subject to discipline.”
After the address, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the department doesn’t allow fear-based or so-called “warrior” trainings internally, but that even off-duty trainings become “muscle memory” for officers on the job.
“You can’t just flip that switch on,” Arradondo told MinnPost. “A lot of that training becomes muscle memory, and to say that officers are engaging in fear-based training on the weekends, but they can just simply switch it off when they come to work on Monday and put on the uniform, that is false.”
The popularity of the training seminars and the ongoing cases of excessive use of force by Minneapolis police are what spurred the ban from the mayor in the first place. Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who was acquitted after shooting and killing Philando Castile during a routine traffic stop in 2016, infamously attended a two-day training course called “The Bulletproof Warrior.” That’s in addition to the case of Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor, who is currently on trial for shooting and killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond in June 2017 after she called 911 to report a sexual assault in the alley outside her home.
It’s also worth mentioning that for all the claims the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis make about the dire need for officers to take protecting their lives into their hands, just two officers have been killed while on duty since 2000, one of whom was killed by a drunk driver; in that same time, Minneapolis police have shot and killed at least 29 people.