Trained To Kill: The Policing Tactics The Public Isn’t Supposed To Know About

Despite the American public’s push for police reform, some law enforcement officers are attending classes emphasizing use of force -- even if their departments don’t Ok it.
By @katierucke |
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    Minnesota

    Minneapolis police investigate a shooting at a business in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis, 2012. (AP/Craig Lassig)

    MINNEAPOLIS – On May 28, 126 police officers in Seattle filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that restrictions placed on the department by a federal court in 2012 regarding officers’ ability to use excessive force was a violation of their constitutional rights as officers.

    Although the restrictions were put in place by the feds to curb the rampant unconstitutional policing the city was experiencing — especially when it came to the use of excessive and deadly force against mostly minority suspects — the officers argue that having to restrain themselves while on duty only leads to an increase in the number of citizens and officers killed.

    In their 81-page filing, the officers specifically argue that they are often put in situations in which they have no choice but to overreact and use force. They also say that the current “impractical and burdensome” restrictions only “trap” officers and lead to an increase in misconduct violations.

    Represented by a Washington, D.C.-based former civil rights attorney, the lawsuit reportedly reflects the “political agenda and rhetoric from the virulently anti-reform police union, the Seattle Police Officers Guild,” and not necessarily the feelings of the Seattle Police Department itself. However, Ron Smith, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, says the union does not support the lawsuit.

    Still, the Seattle-based officers have continued to push for a federal judge to issue an injunction to freeze the use-of-force regulations, at least temporarily, as well as provide financial compensation for those officers who were improperly disciplined or lost wages for violating the use-of-force policies.

    Whether the officers’ request will be approved or denied remains to be seen. But one thing that seems to be evident is that law enforcement’s push for more power is not unique to any one part of the country.

    Incidents of police brutality in Salinas, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Anaheim, Calif.; Minneapolis, have put the issue in the spotlight. Police reform advocates and materIals provided to MintPress News suggest this could be because police officers seem to have a mentality in which they believe they should shoot first and ask questions later.

    According to John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute and author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” “The increased use of violence by police is one of the most dangerous trends occurring in the United States today. Indeed, our militarized police are clearly viewing the average American as something akin to an enemy combatant.

    “In fact, unarmed Americans are being shot by police on a routine basis. Several decades ago, this was unheard of. Moreover, the increased use of SWAT team raids only exacerbates the problem in creating an aggressive police force that is similar to the founding armies America’s founders warned us against.”

    If the protests against local police departments that have popped up as a result of these officer-involved shootings in recent years, months and weeks are any indication, it seems the public has had enough.

     

    Intent of a firearm

    Law enforcement has historically said officers don’t shoot to kill, but that they only shoot to harm or stop a suspect, so the apparent increase in officer-involved shootings was puzzling to some.

    However, police reform advocates have taken the police shootings as an opportunity to argue that the United States is becoming a militarized police state, while several officers have attributed the increase in deaths to people responding to law enforcement in a more violent manner than they used to, the idea that news travels farther thanks to social media, and people now being more likely to be armed than they were before.

    But many police reform advocates and concerned citizens are not convinced that another factor isn’t at play.

    After coming across a crime scene in which a 20-year-old was shot in the back by police officers, a Minnesota resident says he was curious about what kind of instructions police officers were being given regarding the use of force, especially since he learned that the story the police gave to reporters was entirely different from the one they had posted on their Facebook page.

    Concerned about this and another killing, “Jack,” who asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation, has attended 24 hours of training for law enforcement officers this year.

    Jack attended two classes — “The Bulletproof Warrior” and “Anatomy of Force Incidents” — organized by the private, for-profit law enforcement training organization Calibre Press.

    Instructors for the courses include some of the most famous police trainers in the U.S., such as John Bostain, a program specialist at the Law Enforcement Training Center whose career has also included stints with the Hampton, Va., police department, as well as experience as part of a SWAT team, narcotics investigations and as an academy instructor.

    The other instructor Jack encountered was Jim Glennon, owner and director of training for Calibre Press. Glennon has worked in various positions from patrol officer to lieutenant in Illinois, and served as the first Commander of Investigations for the DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force in 1998.

    Jack was able to get into the classes even though he is not employed by any law enforcement agency because the organization allows officers to pay for the trainings themselves, since not every department wants their officers attending these training events. Plus, as he told MintPress, he looks like a stereotypical police officer — a white male who has broad-shoulders, a close shave and a short haircut — so not many people questioned him.

    He says he doesn’t have a troubled past with the police, pointing out that his only interactions with law enforcement involve parking tickets. But because he looks like the stereotypical police officer and feels police officers represent white culture, he decided to investigate what was happening.

    “I felt morally obliged to help a too-trusting public see what is happening,” he said.

     

    The hidden, aggressive agenda

    It may strike some as strange that a police department would not want its officers to receive more training, but the concern for officials at police departments, including Houston and Los Angeles, is the type of training officers receive during these seminars. As Jack told MintPress, Glennon shared that a police chief from a suburb of Dallas told Glennon that he doesn’t allow his officers to take a class from Calibre Press because he knows it will make his officers too aggressive and create other problems for the department.

    But Jack says the reason officers can still attend these classes even if their department doesn’t endorse the seminars, is because most civilian review committees and commissions and local politicians have no idea these courses even exist, and these companies continue to hold these training seminars in locations that are convenient for officers.

    In Minnesota, where Jack attended the training seminars, the classes were not sponsored by the Minneapolis or St. Paul police departments. Instead, the Association of Training Officers of Minnesota and the St. Paul Police Professional Development Institute — an independent company that is not part of the St. Paul Police Department — hosted the training seminars.

    “The problem is that some of the most famous and influential trainers instruct in cops-only sessions,” Jack said about the seminars. “Any discussion about use-of-force standards and trends inevitably gets bogged down by police apologists who insist that the public should trust the fact that police are well-trained. The public can never really exercise its proper oversight of its own police agencies, if and until it knows how they train and prepare for interactions with the public. It was apparent that someone needed to find out what was happening behind those closed doors.”

    Jack says it was troubling to witness hundreds of SWAT team officers and supervisors who seemed unfazed by being instructed to not hesitate when it comes to using excessive, and even deadly, force. He also voiced concerns about how rookie cops might be affected by the class.

    “There were lots of young, gung-ho guys in these classes,” he said, before expressing his concerns that these same officers will now be more likely to fire their guns while on duty than they would have if they had not taken these classes.

    “From my personal experience, these trainers consistently promote more aggression and criticize hesitation to use force,” Jack said. “They argue that the risk of making a mistake is worth it to absolutely minimize risk to the officer. And they teach officers how to use the law to minimize legal repercussions in almost any scenario. All this is, of course, done behind the scenes, with no oversight from police administrators, much less the public.”

    Learning materials on the “Anatomy of Force Incidents” class led by Bostain, emphasized the use of force. According to Jack’s notes, Bostain informed attendees that 70 percent of officers killed didn’t respond with deadly force, which is why Bostain argued that, statistically, police use too little force.

     

    Legal justifications for police brutality

    “Bostain’s eight-hour presentation was mostly a tutorial of how to apply the ‘objective reasonableness’ standard to a multitude of circumstances,” Jack said, explaining that Bostain repeatedly dissected videos to illustrate to attendees how an officer could have legally justified a kill shot.

    “It was literally a training to seek the legal opportunity to kill,” he said. “As [Bostain] said in the training, ‘Right and wrong are about morality, reasonable and unreasonable is about the law, and that is where we are focused.’ This meant a wounded officer from Texas was criticized for refusing to take an intermediate distance shot because there were civilians in the suspects background.

    “To my horror, Bostain followed up to that particular video with a statistic indicating most officers shot to death never shot back.”

    According to the learning materials, Bostain argues there isn’t time for logic and analysis, encouraging officers to fire multiple rounds at subjects because “two shots rarely stops ‘em,” and outlines seven reasons why “excessive use of force” is a myth.

    Other lessons Jack learned from the “Anatomy of Force Incidents” training in January include a need to over-analyze one’s environment for deadly threats by using one’s imagination to create “targets of the day” who could be “reasonably” shot, to view racial profiling as a legitimate policing technique, even if the person is a child, pregnant woman or elderly person, and to use the law to one’s advantage to avoid culpability.

    In Glennon’s May training class, Jack says he was instructed by the charismatic, macho, former interrogator on how to learn to ignore natural human reactions such as stress in order to use force without hesitation.

    “Glennon’s version of the ‘don’t hesitate’ message is the most dangerous I have seen, even after researching police apologists,” Jack said. “This was apparent in Glennon’s defense of the Albuquerque officer’s killing of a homeless man with shots to his back.”

     

    “Just shoot”

    For Jack, the most alarming part Glennon’s message came when he criticized a Minnesota state trooper for hesitating to fire his weapon at a drunk man who was attempting to exit his car with a rifle in his hand.

    “For me, it was a moment of pride in the humanity of our Minnesota trooper who gave the drunk suspect every possible chance to surrender,” Jack said. “He died only when he moved to aim the weapon,” but Glennon “wanted him to die before he even put a foot outside the car door.”

    Those familiar with Glennon are likely not surprised by his statements in the class, since Glennon has written columns for law enforcement magazines arguing that police brutality is a natural result of good, proactive officers doing good work, and that communities that criticize police for brutality should be forced to live without law enforcement.

    The American public’s push for police reform to ensure that law enforcement helps keep a community safe and doesn’t terrorize residents is at odds with a push to teach police officers to fire their weapons before asking questions. But companies like Calibre Press are motivated by profit — not necessarily what Americans want.

    Calibre Press reportedly earns around $35 million per year. That could increase exponentially in the next few years if departments succumb to the illusion that forceful policing is the future and is in the best interests of the American public. Meanwhile, the company is expanding its course offerings.

    On Thursday and Friday, Calibre Press was in Minneapolis conducting a two-day pilot seminar on its newest program, “The Ultimate FTO.” According to the organization’s website, the class for field training officers is an “evidence-based officer safety program focused on human performance improvement,” that is supposed to turn a “good” FTO into a “great” FTO.

    Brian Glennon, director of marketing for Calibre Press, told MintPress that the 30-person class — which each student pays $209 to attend — was full. He said this and about 19 classes the organization offers are continued advanced training for current law enforcement officers that are taught by current and retired law enforcement officers.

    Per Brian Glennon’s suggestion, MintPress was scheduled to have an interview with Jim Glennon, but our calls and emails were not returned after our initial conversation with Brian.

    Since it doesn’t appear these pro-force classes will be going away anytime soon, the Rutherford Institute’s Whitehead says the public has to get involved in order to prevent the furtherance of a police state in the U.S.

    “I do believe that headway can be made against this problem on the local level if citizens will get organized and demand that their local governing councils create oversight boards with the intention of not only correcting problems but preventing the growth of the increased aggression by police in general,” he said.

    “What Americans have forgotten is that there once was a time in our nation’s history when the police operated as public servants (i.e., in service to the public). Today that master-servant relationship has been turned on its head to such an extent that if we fail to obey anyone who wears a badge, we risk dire consequences.”

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      • Johnny Lawson

        I have always suspected that the police departments in the u.s. was not is not working on behalf of the pulics interest.
        The police departments serves another purpose on behalf of the owners of the u.s.

      • Abaddon

        This is where I disagree with Alex Jones belief that most police officers are Good. I’ve lived In many States and other than in Alaska where I now live I have found the great majority of police officers to be arrogant egomaniacs who clearly think of themselves as someone with an elevated social status above the common folk. Police would rather investigate your death than see you defend yourself. Alaska State Troopers are the first law enforcement agency I have experienced where I would have no hesitation in describing as one of the very few agencies that operate primarily as Peace officers and respect those who they have been hired to serve.

      • JohnLloydScharf

        First, police have always acted the way they do now, unless it is the threat of video recording that has caused them to cut back. What needs to be done is to require any officer who is armed to have a camera on for their entire shift. No video recorder – no gun.

      • nightwisp

        If they cannot handle the rules, they need to find another job. They are not soldiers. They are public servants, paid a salary by the public. They are not overlords.

      • robertsgt40

        What needs to be asked is why do so many police chiefs go to Israel for training?

      • David

        Nobody stated that being police isn’t a dangerous job. There will be injured and dead police officers in the call of duty. It is a mistake to assume that one can reduce the number of casualties by a shoot-first, ask-later policy which primarily increases the casualties among innocent people who, in contrast to police officers, have not chosen an occupation known to be dangerous. The total number of casualties is increased, and one can only consider that an improvement if one counts the life of a police officer as being worth more than that of a civilian. However, because it means actual criminals have less to lose, they will tend to employ ambushes or shootouts in order to improve *their* chance at survival, so this stance does not actually help police officers in general but only the most aggressive ones. So it creates an atmosphere of escalation where it pays to be a worse danger to the public than the next officer.

        This spiral of violence can only be broken by laws and regulations.

        • stk33

          David, the mistake is to try to make reducing the number of causalities a priority. If particular job has inherent risk, then either you take the risk, or you don’t take the job But you don’t modify the job to reduce your risk.

          By the way, the majority of police deaths are either from their own negligence in driving , or from natural causes, like heart attack on the job. In 2014, 19 deaths out of 53 were from shooting.

      • John Doe

        In the last SEVEN DAYS, I have been pulled over FOUR TIMES. The first, for transitioning into the left hand turn lane without a signal. The second for turning onto the freeway without using my signal. The third for going FIVE miles per hour over the speed limit. And the fourth was for not wearing my seatbelt only. I’m just a 50 something clean cut regular white guy driving a Dodge Ram 1500 and a VW Passat. The cops have gone rogue. And they wonder why people are disrespecting them. They shoot our dogs, raid our homes, beat up the old, sick, mentally ill, and intoxicated, and do nothing to solve or reduce crime. If you’re reading this and you’re a cop – just know that YOU ARE A DISGUSTING LOSER WITH AN EGO. No matter how you try to justify how different you are from the rest, you’re not.

        • stk33

          John, it’s a good idea to turn on your left signal in general, and especially when you see police cruiser nearby, and especially when you are doing it again 4th time in seven days. Get trapster app on your phone to be aware when the cops are close

          The cops would be rogue to stop you for nothing, but when you again don’t signal left turn after you have been warned only yesterday, I would probably stop you too.

      • SelfDefendant

        Question for the lawyers. At what point is protecting myself from the police by using deadly force legal?

        • copsEATcrap

          Move to Indiana (see our laws on this topic)

        • stk33

          That will be up to the jury, and from the wast majority of cases, the answer is “practically never”.

      • fatwillie

        Years ago when cops were real men, and were aware of the hand that fed them we did not have these problems. Most cops today have an attitude of us against them, and there is no reason for it, other then their training, and the fact that they want to be part of the group. I have known many cops from many areas in my lifetime, and most probably 99% never had to draw their weapon. Most never walked up to a traffic offender with his hand on his weapon. Most treated people with respect and compassion, most had a big heart, a soul and the ability to think on their feet. Cops today should be ashamed of themselves , they think they are manly, but are bullies, cowards and incapable of a thought process, proof being they know not who feeds them. They kill at the drop of a hat regardless of the circumstances, armed or not, threatened or not, they lie they frame, they have no idea how to deal with people or public, they solve no crime, as they are incapable and are just a bunch of revenue collectors. What was once a noble profession, they have turned into shame and they cannot see it. people use to look up to them, now they fear and hate them, people use to respect them and they have lost all of that. hell if animals could talk they would be saying what most say about police as they even abuse birds, dogs and who knows what else. Rather then show shame they boast and brag of what they do. While not all are bad it seems that the majority have forgotten or don’t care about their actions or the safety of the people. Even retired and older cops are scratching their heads at the actions of the police of today. This is only going to get worse because nobody is doing anything about it. And when it hits its breaking point and the people have had enough, because those responsible did nothing, there is going to be a blood bath unlike anything they can ever imagine. Then we will see just how manly they are,as they scurry like rats to shake the uniform and hide.

      • Hp B

        Bad cops bad cops whatcha gonna do,
        whatcha gonna do when they come for YOU! (for real)

      • David Mowers

        Half of all police work involves drug investigations or substance abuse issues so we could eliminate half of all crime by legalizing and regulating recreational drug use. That would be half of all shooting incidents ended.

        • robot g

          Wont happen because the war on drugs is a cash cow for the police and the prisons. We empty the prison population just by letting non violent drug offenders out.

      • Bill Jarett

        Police officers should be fired for attending such classes. They are literally being taught to engage in crimes and how to evade legal consequence.

      • T_T

        “…communities that criticize police for brutality should be forced to live without law enforcement.”

        If only we could be so lucky. I protect myself and my own, cops are not welcome where I live.

        • Hp B

          Ain’t that the truth.
          If the cops disappeared so would the truly violent criminals disappear. Sure it might take a few months but who in their right mind would act criminal when every other person is armed? Yeah..
          Most likely the criminals would head to liberal Democratville where people aren’t allowed to protect themselves and their neighbors. Fathers, sons, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. are all that is needed to maintain the peace and civility.

      • Edwin Vieira

        Once a few of these out-of-control “law enforcement officers”–and the people who “trained” them to behave in that homicidal fashion–are convicted under Title 18, United States Code, sections 241 and 242, and receive the sentences appropriate for these crimes, most of this will stop. The question, then, is why no prosecutions are being brought, when this kind of egregious misbehavior is epidemic throughout this country.

        • freewheelinfranklin543

          That’s nothing but a pipe dream. The politicians have no intention of reigning in their thugs. This will lead to revolution and civil war if it isn’t stopped. Why do you think all the federal agencies are buying billions of rounds of ammo and given tanks to these puke pigs! Why do you think the military is doing riot control and domestic suppression exercises against ZOMBIES! We are the zombies…The American people!
          And the District of Criminals has declared war on the Americans! God Help Us!

          • cold340t

            Remember that EVERY ZOMBIE movie has a scene where the Living have to “kill” a Family member/loved one or friend that has become a “zombie” You are right those “zombies” are US!

        • Henry

          The answer is that the police “protect and serve” the wealthy 1 percent establishment. I heard a judge interrupt testimony to angrily assert that “his” police officers wouldn’t lie. So the judge regards the
          cops as “his”.
          The prosecutors, judges and politicians are the elite, and as corrupt as they come. The cops are “their boys” and are the enforcers and protectors. The corrupt elite need “their boys” to provide protection and cover for corruption scams. So “their boys” are certainly not going to get prosecuted. That’s why there is an epidemic of brutality and murder throughout this country.

      • HelloFeds

        Reading this article basically makes me want to see all police in the US completely disarmed.

        • Virgil Hilts

          You are an idiot if you think that is a good idea. You will not have any police and contrary to the idea that everyone will defend themselves, more good people will die as a result. Many people think they are better trained than the police, but they would be suprised how fast society would disentegrate. Your parents and grandparents would be victim to many more criminals. No murders or robberies would be solved. Nothing stolen would be found. Punish the police that violate the law and let the ones that don’t do their job. If society did not call the police about every little thing, they would not be overtaxed and could find good recruits for the job. Also don’t think that affirmative action has not damaged the police in the US. Many good candidates are passed to hire non qualified “minorities”.

          • robot g

            Omg solved murders? Found stolen property? You live in a dream land. The police do nothing but hide on the interstates trying to site motorist with tickets. They are nothing but tax collectors armed with military weapons and vehicles. They have the right to steal property which they do. Get rid of the police altogether.

            • Virgil Hilts

              Appreciate you. You too are an idiot….Run a foul of the law before? You would be one of the first ones killed. Crawl back under the bridge, troll……..Not all cops are good. Just as not all doctors, lawyers and plumbers. You mentality is confirmed by you attitude.

              • robot g

                Once an argument resorts to name calling it is lost. Typical attitude of someone who knows they are wrong.

              • pigssh*t

                U sound like an oinker yourself. tell me, steal anything from evidence?, shoot any homeless people lately? The cops are liers,,,theives,,,nothing more than represenatives of the state,,,the armed and mobile IRS,,,,and if you did have your car stolen or home burglarized. They will tell you its a civil matter,,,and continue writing tickets on the interstate,,,,so get the f*ck outta lala land .

              • Undecider

                You don’t seem to understand why the police are becoming militarized. Are you the one who’s living in fantasy land? Take a break from the mainstream television and its BS propaganda calling the people threats and persons of interest. It’s not that bad out there and the threats in America are likely less than they were in decades past. In short, we DO NOT need gun happy cops. They could probably do just fine with six-shot .38 revolvers.

                Take a moment to study what’s going on behind the scenes.

                • JohnLloydScharf

                  They have become the Suburban Witless Assault Terrorists.

              • JohnLloydScharf

                Officers are given a free pass they do not deserve. They need to be indicted and a jury decision every time they hit or shoot a civilian.

            • Tim Sebold

              If they did, people like you would be easy prey for people like me. You wouldn’t last a day in a world with no law.

              • Guest

                You w

              • Guest

                @timsebold:disqus People like you wouldn’t last for long, because you’d get gunned down for whatever it is you think you’d do. You wouldn’t last long in a world with no law, because the people you’d seek to “prey” on would cut you down.

                • Tim Sebold

                  Only in your fevered dreams, boy.

                  • JohnLloydScharf

                    Assume I am armed and not “prey.” The results might not be made right in your lifetime.

              • JohnLloydScharf

                For us who have lived a long time beyond 44, we got to this place for a reason and cops never protected me from a robber, murder, or even a burglary.

                • Tim Sebold

                  Oh, well by all means I guess you are the golden standard by which all law enforcement services legitimacy must be judge. How awesome you must be.

                  • JohnLloydScharf

                    I am a retired correctional officer who was trained the the same instructors who teach LEOs. Deadly force is justified only when undertaken to prevent imminent and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent. This requires the ability, opportunity, and intention of an aggressor necessary to cause serious or lethal harm.

          • pigsEATcrap

            I think you’ve been stroking or puffing someone’s ‘baton’ for too long. If there are truly good cops, why don’t they stop the bad cops. Wake up, dopey.

          • HelloFeds

            There are now more than 2 thousand people killed by police in the US every year. Figures floating around the net saying that the number is 500 are huge undercounts. Given that, the police at this point should generally be considered America’s most dangerous street gang. How do you effectively deal with a street gang? Disarm it; monitor; incarcerate its most dangerous leaders and members.

          • JohnLloydScharf

            Guns do not solve murders or robberies. Officers are being taught for 800 hours to use a sidearm and 8 hours on how to resolve conflicts. They use what they are taught to use. I have no parents or grandparents because I am one. Everyone in my home is licensed to carry and is armed. I do not need an armed officer to shoot people.

            Deadly force is justified only when undertaken to prevent imminent and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent. This requires the ability, opportunity, and intention of an aggressor necessary to cause serious or lethal harm.

            I doubt officers are qualified to make that decision, given the psychotic message they are given to aim at center mass and justify yourself later.

      • PigStateNews

        At least 1189 people have been killed by U.S. police since May 1, 2013. Several times that number have been shot and injured.
        https://www.facebook.com/KilledByPolice