The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot an African-American man during a traffic stop last week had recently undergone training that critics say can lead officers to believe they are under constant threat of being harmed and can intensify encounters with civilians, the New York Times reports. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of St. Anthony, Mn., shot and killed Philando Castile. The shooting is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The U.S. Justice Department has said it is monitoring the case. Since the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson in 2014, many police departments across the U.S., with encouragement from the Justice Department, have opted for what they refer to as a guardian mentality, in which de-escalation of potentially violent situations and similar techniques are emphasized. Some departments believe that a more traditional and aggressive so-called warrior approach is necessary. Yanez underwent a two-day training course called “The Bulletproof Warrior” in 2014. The training combined the two approaches.
Critics of the seminars say the training offered, which includes watching videos showing officers being shot, runs counter to the reforms departments must adopt if they are to win back trust, especially of black residents. “Courses like this reinforce the thinking that everyone is out to get police officers,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “This teaches officers, ‘If you hesitate, you could lose your life.’ It is the exact opposite of the way many police chiefs are going.” The course was conducted by Calibre Press in Glen Ellyn, Il, owned by Jim Glennon, a former police lieutenant in Lombard, Il. Glennon said that the main focus of the course was to teach police officers to maintain a sense of flexibility in their work, which he calls “balance,” and involves when to use force and at what level, given the circumstances. He said the course did not teach officers to have a warrior mentality.