MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The shooting death of Philando Castile and other African-American men continue to spark outrage across the country.
And Minnesota’s legislature recently approved a far-reaching plan to train every police officer in the state in crisis response and de-escalation techniques.
Minnesota officers were forced to respond to widespread protests over a series of police shootings; protests that often quickly escalate into violence.
But many police encounters are at scenes of domestic violence or mental illness.
That is why the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training is taking on daunting project: train every one of the state’s nearly 11,000 police officers in de-escalation techniques.
“The police are the first ones to arrive,” said Nate Gove of the MN POST Board. “It’s something that’s out of control. Many times people are armed, especially in this day and age. Many have concealed weapons on them. It’s very hazardous.”
It will take four to five years to train thousands of officers in 800 departments.
The training will include crisis response, conflict management and cultural diversity. They are all good goals, but some say it is still not enough.
Mel Reeves is a community activist monitoring the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer who shot Philando Castile.
“I don’t think in this system, the police are going to act any differently,” Reeves said.
He says police need to un-learn “control and command” techniques they use in minority neighborhoods.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Reeves said. “It’s better if the police pull you over and you walk away with your life. That’s a good thing!”
Police say the training will give them more options to safely resolve conflict.
“Not only for certainly the person in crisis, but the officers themselves, and bystanders,” Gove said.
The legislature appropriated $6 million for police training, which will begin in 2018.