PSA: Don’t Quote Adolf Hitler In Your Police Training Materials
I don't approve of randomly calling people Nazis, unless they are actual Nazis. This cheapens the horrors of the Holocaust. Feminists aren't Nazis. People who correct your grammar are annoying and will probably die alone but they're not Nazis. And Godwin willing, even the worst cops aren't Nazis. However, it would help if they didn't take Nazi training courses.
The New York Times reported this weekend that a slideshow in a Kentucky State Police training program literally quoted Hitler. There's no excuse for this. Even if Hitler had a decent recipe for butternut squash soup, you don't include it in the cookbook.
The New York Times
A training slide titled “Violence of Action" quotes both Albert Einstein, who fled Germany because of the rise of Nazism, and Hitler, who would've murdered him if he had the chance. It's a poor pairing, like a good Pinot gris with an evil Nazi.
Einstein's always relevant words — "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing" — are followed up by Hitler's genocidal aphorism: "The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence." This ranks up with "I don't see why men shouldn't be as cruel as nature" in Hitler's Big Book of YIKES!
It is entirely inexcusable for the words of Hitler to be used in training Kentucky State Police. ADL is actively wo… https://t.co/fX1E8T86Pu— ADL (@ADL)1604093448.0
Although Einstein's quote is perverted from its actual meaning, Hitler's line is eerily consistent with law enforcement's so-called "warrior training," which police departments embrace because they all enjoyed the first act of Full Metal Jacket but missed the larger point. Officers are conditioned to believe their lives are in perpetual danger and that anyone who's not a cop is a potential threat, including the civilians they are supposedly sworn to "protect and serve." This dehumanizing training might make sense in a war zone, which Iis why I don't like war zones, but on city streets, it leads to more George Floyds and Breonna Taylors.
The slide, when not quoting Hitler, also promotes "ruthlessness without anger" and "controlled aggression without anger," and teaches officers to "meet violence with even greater violence," all very standard sociopath stuff. If you'd like to learn more about Hitler, the presentation links to his Goodreads page (seriously).
The Manual RedEye, a student newspaper at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky, broke the story last week.
In a statement emailed to RedEye reporters, KSP spokesperson Lieutenant Joshua Lawson wrote, "The quotes are used for their content and relevance to the topic addressed in the presentation. The presentation touches on several aspects of service, selflessness, and moral guidance. All of these topics go to the fundamentals of law enforcement such as treating everyone equally, service to the public, and being guided by the law."
The presentation has three Hitler quotes and none from Fred Rogers, who has a better track record of "treating everyone equally." He liked you "just the way you are," and our research confirms Hitler did not.
Morgan Hall, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which oversees the State Police, said that the slide show was "removed" in 2013 and was no longer in use but declined to answer a list of questions, including queries about how long the material was used and how many cadets had seen the training.
Hall does agree it's “unacceptable" that the material was ever included in law enforcement training. She claimed that the cabinet agency is conducting an "internal review" after the high school kids blew this wide open.
And don’t give us the “it’s a few bad apples” excuse. This is a poisonous culture that has gotten too many innocent… https://t.co/T2J8DKDzif— Rep. John Yarmuth (@Rep. John Yarmuth)1604097521.0
The Hitler slideshow could prove useful to David Ward, who is suing a Kentucky State Police officer for the shooting death of Bradley J. Grant in 2018. Ward received a copy of the slideshow through a public records request for material the officer had seen during training. The slideshow appalled Ward but didn't surprise him. He believes the training manual was consistent with how the trooper engaged Grant. The state police claimed Grant confronted two officers with a shotgun but Ward argues that he was holding the weapon to his own chin and asking officers to shoot him. Suicide by cop shouldn't be encouraged, but God knows what else was in that slideshow.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshar told USA Today that the Nazi-themed training "is absolutely unacceptable. It is further unacceptable that I just learned about this through social media. We will collect all the facts and take immediate corrective action."
Removing Hitler from police training manuals is a good move, but an an even better one is abolishing the “warrior" cop mindset.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).