Minneapolis Banned Warrior-Style Police Training. Its Police Union Kept Offering It Anyway.

The union’s resistance to reform is coming under renewed scrutiny after the killing of George Floyd.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, at a Trump rally in October 2019.Richard Tsong-Taatarii/AP

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George Floyd’s killing on Monday at the hands of a white police officer is sparking intense scrutiny of the Minneapolis Police Department—an institution long plagued by allegations of misconduct and racist abuse—and the controversial restraint tactic that led to Floyd being suffocated to death while pinned to the ground, as he repeatedly told officers he could no longer breathe.

While an investigation is underway over the use of the chokehold in Floyd’s death, it’s worth taking a look at the “warrior-style” police training that for years had been popular with the city’s top police union. For the unfamiliar, the training, as we reported in 2017, generally espouses a “killology” vision of law enforcement that’s frequently likened to “fear porn.” Experts say the training, which has been linked to high profile police-related killings around the country, including Philando Castille’s 2016 shooting death, also in Minnesota, often runs the risk of the use of unnecessary, and sometimes, fatal force:

This approach to policing is outdated and ineffective, says Stoughton, and, “some of it is dangerously wrong.” Samuel Walker, a criminal-justice professor and expert on police accountability, says the “Bulletproof Warrior” approach is “okay for Green Berets but unacceptable for domestic policing. The best police chiefs in the country don’t want anything to do with this.”

Citing the “killology” mentality, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ultimately banned the training last year but the move infuriated Minneapolis Police Union President Lt. Bob Kroll. Shortly after the decision was announced, Kroll called the ban illegal and said that the union would continue to make the training available to any interested officers. “It’s not about killing, it’s about surviving,” Kroll said at the time.

Though it’s not clear if anyone actually took up the offer for additional training, Kroll’s resistance to police reform should take on new significance after Floyd’s killing. So too should his comments on “the handcuffing and oppression of police.”

“The Obama administration and the handcuffing and oppression of police was despicable,” Kroll said while speaking at a Trump rally in October. “The first thing President Trump did when he took office was turn that around…he decided to start let cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of on us.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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