Community members and activists came together to criticize controversial "fear-based" police officer training used by local officers involved in two deaths.
Training was taught by fear-based training pioneer Dave Grossman. The premise of his classes is that officers are "at war" on the domestic front and need psychological training to become "warriors" to overcome their resistance to killing. If not, they could be killed in the line of duty, he says.
"This training isn't just theoretical," said Michelle Gross, head of Communities United Against Police Brutality. "It's having a real impact on the community."
That training, which Grossman recently presented to 37 officers at the Mall of America in Bloomington, intentionally targets the emotion of fear. Once an officer makes a decision to take a life that officer is transformed, he said. Last year, 1,147 people were killed by police.
Fear-based training courses such as "Bulletproof Warrior,” are turning police officers into "warriors" who view the community as "enemy combatants," said Gross. The Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Board has approved hundreds of Grossman's courses for continuing education credit, she added.
Yet major police policy organizations, such as the Police Executive Research Forum and International Association of Chiefs of Police have repudiated Grossman's training.
The meeting was developed by the Coalition to End Fear-Based Training and included presentations from criminal justice professor Raj Sethuraju, researcher Rachael Rivard, mental health professional Sandi Simonson and civil rights attorney Robin Magee.
The group produced a short video showing snippets of Grossman's classes and field training. Grossman, who says he is a former Army ranger, started teaching his "killology" methods more than 20 years ago. He is booked for more than 200 dates each year and has trained more than 20,000 officers.
Grossman tells officers that "only a killer can hurt a killer." He asks them if "you are willing to snuff out a life to protect innocent people."
When he surveyed officers about deadly shootings, the concern he most often heard was over liability and lawsuits. He stressed to officers to "shoot first and worry about questions later."
Grossman's training is taught to officers, but also to first responders, schools, churches and civilians.