MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A law enforcement training session designed to teach cops to deal with justified, deadly-force situations is coming under fire.
A coalition of groups is protesting BulletProof training, a two-day session, for police officers held at the Mall of America. Groups like Black Lives Matter and Communities United Against Police Brutality say the seminar is fear-based training that encourages officers to shoot first and ask questions later.
Protesters rallied at the Mall of America on Wednesday. They want the Minnesota Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training to remove the BulletProof course from its list of training approved for continuing education. They believe the seminar creates a police warrior mentality, but there are officers who say the training is beneficial.
It’s a course designed to teach officers to make the right decisions in fast, rapidly-changing situations. Chisago County Sheriff’s Deputy, Sgt. Kyle Puelston, says the BulletProof training is life-changing.
”The training helped me be prepared mentally for stressful situations and situations that would require me to use force,” Sgt. Puelston said. “BulletProof talks about the weak link being the mind. If you don’t mentally prepare for stressful situations and dynamic and violent encounters, you are not going to be prepared for it.”
But there are some in the community that feel this training promotes a shoot first and ask questions later behavior.
”Our organization actually has a copy of their training materials. We’re probably the only civilian organization in the country that has these,” Michelle Gross with People United Against Police Brutality said.
Gross says BulletProof training has no place in the state of Minnesota.
”Bulletproof and other similar training are fear-based training. They teach officers their lives are in danger and the community is their enemy,” Gross said.
The training has become so controversial that the Minneapolis Police Department and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office both decided not to participate. Both organizations didn’t want to send personnel to training that could, in any way, shake the foundation of trust between police and community.
“Modern police training involved de-escalation communication and collaboration with the community, and it’s wrong to teach officers to be fearful of the community that they serve,” Gross said.
This group says it will not give up until it gets what it wants.
“We want this course out of Minnesota. It’s not part of who we are as a state,” Gross said.
Sgt. Puelston says until you are placed in a violent or deadly encounter, it’s impossible to try to communicate what that is exactly and how your body responds. He says BulletProof training helps him through the tough times.
But this group says they won’t rest until to training is no longer offered in Minnesota.