The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and Minneapolis Police Department have backed out of the controversial “Bulletproof” training being held this week, saying the course does not reflect their values.
The training, formerly called “Bulletproof Warrior,” came under nationwide scrutiny after Philando Castile was fatally shot in July 2016. Jeronimo Yanez, the former St. Anthony police officer who shot him, had taken that training not long before the incident in Falcon Heights.
The St. Paul Police Department has not participated in that training course since Chief Todd Axtell came onboard in 2016, spokesman Steve Linders said. St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth said at a community meeting in February that his officers would no longer participate, either.
Minneapolis police originally intended to send training officers to the course being held at the Mall of America in Bloomington to assess its value as a training tool.
“While we hold the safety of our community members and our officers in the highest regard, our policing model is built on a community of trust,” Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement.
“We do not want to attend any training that could, in any way, shake the foundation of trust,” he said.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office had planned to send 10 officers but Chief Deputy Steve Frazer said the training “is not in line with our core values.”
Linders said Axtell wants officers to be “true guardians of the city of St. Paul and of public safety. He felt our training would be better if it focused on guardian mentality.”
The group that runs the “Bulletproof” training said on its website that the event “is designed to prepare students psychologically, emotionally, and tactically for their roles as law enforcement professionals in modern society. Participants will examine the current relationship between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to protect while also identifying the most current threats to both.”
Topics discussed at the training include “pre-incident preparation, detecting deception, the ‘sheepdog mentality,’ preparing for the aftermath and reading body language.”
The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A coalition of activist groups plan to rally outside the Mall of America’s North entrance Wednesday afternoon “to bring attention to the dangers of a police warrior mentality” and call on the board that licenses police to remove the course from its continuing education list.