Over the past several years, police killings of unarmed minorities has moved to the forefront of mainstream news. The left is pointing fingers at the right and the right is pointing fingers at the left. Some people are crying for tighter gun control laws while others still, argue not enough American citizens are armed to “protect themselves and their property”. After every police shooting that has been reported, one common denominator seems to stick out of the murky waters of politics and that is the training that police have received.
From coast to coast city governments have rallied behind their “boys in blue” after “accidental or justified” shootings. The mainstream media has been efficiently quick to report back-stories of officers involved, heralding their accomplishments in their respective departments and length of time “serving their communities”. Not until the officer has been thrown under the bus by scandal does the media highlight low and questionable points in an officer’s career.
ABC News reported last year that a police officer shot and killed a man after mistaking his lighter for a gun. In Detroit that same week, a deaf and mute man with a garden rake was deemed a danger to life and was subsequently shot and killed by police. That officer was charged with manslaughter while an investigation is underway. He is on paid vacation or administrative leave.
Most pervasive and seemingly the quickest go-to scapegoat for the “spike” in police shootings is all of a sudden a lack in training of police officers. When an unarmed civilian ends up dead at the hands of the police, it’s due to a lack of training.
When Charles Kinsey, the North Miami mental health therapist, was shot by police while tending to an individual with mental disabilities, it was because the officer who pulled the trigger did not receive enough training in hearing someone say that they are not armed. When the officer rolled up on Tamir Rice in Cleveland and shot him in under 3 seconds of engaging him, it was due to a lack of training. Story after story of police killing mentally ill people, even after being called by family members to help bring a situation under control, stems from a lack of training… or so they would have it seem. Pay attention to who is controlling the conversation thereby diverting the focus and attention to what they please.
The ‘lack of training’ reasoning is growing as a get-out-of-jail-free card for police but how accurate is that notion? What kind of training is lacking and why now is it becoming so apparent?
Recently, San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, made a comparison between police training and training requirements for cosmetologists. In his comparison, Kaepernick noted the glaring disparity between the training regimen for a cosmetologist and a police officer. What is striking is the amount of time a beautician is in training before being unleashed on the public in stark contrast to a beat cop but is that enough to say that the police suffer from a lack of training and should they not be held accountable for their “mistakes”?
In April of 2015, reserve officer Deputy Robert Bates shot and killed Eric Harris in Tulsa, Ok. The 73-year-old deputy allegedly shouted “Taser! Taser!” before pulling the trigger on his gun, firing a round into Harris.
Bates was assisting other deputies who were trying to take Harris into custody after the felon fled from police during a sting operation, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s said.
Bates was later charged with second-degree manslaughter District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler’s office in Tulsa confirmed.
“Mr. Bates is charged with second-degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence. Oklahoma law defines culpable negligence as ‘the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions,’” Kunzweiler said in a statement.
Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark told the World that Bates donates his time and is a highly regarded member of the Reserve Deputy Program. He has also donated multiple vehicles, guns and stun guns, Clark said.
Tulsa police Sgt. Jim Clark, who investigated the case, determined that the shooting was not a crime and did not violate department policy.
“Reserve Deputy Bates did not commit a crime,” he said. “There’s no other determination I could come to.”
As investigation into Bates ensued however, it was revealed that he was awarded “credit for field training he never took and firearms certifications he should not have received.” Staff at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were reportedly ordered to falsify the training records and firearms certificates for Bates AND “at least three” of Bates’ supervisors were transferred from the department after refusing to sign off on his state-required training.
Oklahoma requires each reserve officer to go through at least 240 hours of training on “legal basics, investigative procedures and use of firearms,” according to AP, plus 320 hours of additional instruction, which amounts to half that required of a full-time police officer.
How quickly we forget just last year mainstream news reported on psychologist professor, William J. Lewinski, who testified at hundreds of court cases attesting to the training that police receive from his courses. He trains officers to shoot first to neutralize the threat. According to Lewinski, “we’re telling officers, ‘Look for cover and then read the threat,” spoken by Lewinski at a Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs class.
The New York Times wrote,
Much of the criticism of his work, Dr. Lewinski said, amounts to politics. In 2012, for example, just seven months after the Justice Department excoriated him and his methods, department officials paid him $55,000 to help defend a federal drug agent who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old in California. Then last year, as part of a settlement over excessive force in the Seattle Police Department, the Justice Department endorsed sending officers to Mr. Lewinski for training. And in January, he was paid $15,000 to train federal marshals.
Lewinski has worked on behalf of one the Albuquerque officers who shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man in 2014 as well as testified in the 2009 Bay Area Transit case where an officer shot and killed unarmed Black man, Oscar Grant.
He also publishes a newsletter on police use of force that he says has nearly one million subscribers.
Recently, a source within the local police forced provided a copy of his textbook from the academy, the Florida Law Enforcement Academy FLORIDA BASIC RECRUIT TRAINING PROGRAM version 2015.07. It is currently available for download on the website LyricalElitist.com in the editor’s desk section as well as on the FDLE website.
Revealed inside was the lack of training in constitutionally appropriate dealing with the public. In Chapter 2’s Introduction to Law, the “Focus on Constitutional Law” is just under 3 pages in a 608 page textbook. Under Legal Concepts’ Use of Force section within the same chapter, use of force is barely granted 2 pages of legal concepts.
It appears based off the information provided that officers are being provided adequate training in dealing with the public and serving the purpose to which it was first constructed in the South; as a “Slave Patrol” (Platt 1982). The first formal slave patrol was created in the Carolina colonies in 1704 with three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing “Jim Crow” segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system. That is why no one was surprised when the Justice Dept, the same ones who pay for the training of so many officers, released a report of White Supremacist infiltration of police organizations.
Not enough training? I think not. They are receiving the very training that is wanted for if that were not the case, Lewinski would be broke.