TWO FALLEN TROOPERS TO BE ADDED TO IOWA PEACE OFFICER MEMORIAL
Sergeant, Iowa State Patrol
April 26, 2022
DES MOINES, Iowa --- Next Friday, Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens and the state of Iowa will honor two Iowa State Patrol Troopers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Each of these officers dedicated their lives to serving Iowans to protect and keep our communities safe.
Please join us on Friday, May 6, 2022, to honor these fallen peace officers, as well as the many other Iowa officers who have given their lives in the line of duty over the last 153 years.
IOWA PEACE OFFICE MEMORIAL CEREMONY
Friday, May 6, 2022
Iowa Peace Officer Memorial
Grounds East of Oran Pape State Office Building
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
(Rain Location: State Capitol rotunda)
FACEBOOK LIVE: Iowa State Patrol
March Publication :2022
Trenton police putting de-escalation training into action
Published: Mar. 08, 2022, 6:52 p.m.
By Vashti Harris | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
It began with a call to police. A distraught family member with a knife was threatening to harm himself and others. Trenton police responding to the call that January day utilized new training that helped them de-escalate the situation and take the person into custody.
“To be completely honest with you, the gentleman with the knife created such a life hazard to our officers that under the current attorney general guidelines for use of force, the officers would have been justified in using deadly force, but it didn’t escalate and eventually the person put down the knife and then ask the officers to take it someplace for help,” Training Supervisor Lt. John Harbourt told NJ Advance Media. “One officer spoke exclusively to the man while other officers behind him incorporated their training by feeding the officer questions and statements to help deescalate the situation.”
The department began training officers in de-escalation techniques in September, after a mandate that applied to all departments in New Jersey by then New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
“The current climate out there as society on edge when dealing with police officers,” Trenton Police Director Steven Wilson said. “This training hopefully will smooth that edge out and show the public that the police department is part of the community rather than an us versus them mentality.”
Wilson said the training teaches officers to first assess and evaluate each situation they encounter. Previously, they would separate everyone and then do an assessment.
“That kind of action from the officers can actually escalate (situations),” Wilson said. “We’re training now to do the opposite of that and bring everybody down, calm everything.”
The training helps officers see the difference between situations where they have to respond in the moment and those where they can do an assessment first.
The training, created by the Police Executive Research Forum, have been held at Mercer County Community College. While it is funded by the state, Harbourt said it does generate some salary costs for the department.
Wilson said officers can use the training as soon as they complete the courses.
“So just in a matter of like two or three weeks after this training started, we had a couple major incidents that may have turned out a little differently,” Harbourt said.
The training is also beneficial for younger officers, who have not have the life experience to prepare for some of the situations they encounter, Harbourt said, adding the training helps them understand how to de-escalate these situations.
“If you think about when you have a 23-year-old police officer that lives at home, when they’re walking into a domestic (call), they don’t have a lot of life skills to bring to that situation,” Harbourt said. “We’re giving them a set of tools to help them deescalate a situation in hopes that force won’t have to be used in really any way.”
Wilson said he would have implemented the training for every member of the department even if it wasn’t mandatory.
“This is how we change the culture of policing in the city and certainly in the nation,” Wilson said. “I just hope that the people out there recognize that we’re making positive strides in that direction.”
The training includes Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics, used to help officers de-escalate tense situations. Harbourt said ICAT instructs officers on critical thinking, crisis intervention, communications and tactics.
A second training program, Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, fosters a culture within law enforcement that supports peer intervention by promoting accountability. The goal is to prevent mistakes, address misconduct and promote fellowship among officers.
Monthly Publication : February 2022
Why cops should consider getting a graduate degree
Graduate degree programs can help law enforcement professionals develop the critical-thinking skills required to navigate the complex realities of modern public safety
Feb 18, 2022
Download this week's episode on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Spotify or via RSS feed.
The benefits of higher education for law enforcement officers can include improving a better understanding of laws and policies, to becoming a better communicator, both verbally and on the written page, to becoming more socially aware from interaction with professors and peer students.
The University of Virginia has long been linked to law enforcement practices through the association with the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia and with respected law enforcement leaders on faculty, such as Lexipol's Gordon Graham. In this episode of Policing Matters, host Jim Dudley speaks with Bryon Gustafson, assistant professor and director of the Master of Public Safety program at the University of Virginia, about the benefits of a master's degree for police officers.
Rethinking The Police Academy: Nashville’s police department wants to diversify, but its training program has failed many women and people of color
SAMANTHA MAX FEBRUARY 9, 2022
Samantha MaxWPLN News
For the past decade, white men have graduated from the Nashville police academy at higher rates than women and people of color.Karen Hunt Ahmed is just the type of person many police departments say they want to recruit these days: an avid runner with a black belt in karate and multiple advanced degrees. But when she applied to Nashville’s police department, she was 51 years old, with no prior law enforcement experience. As a white woman, she was also in the minority in a department that is almost entirely male.“I thought, you know, I’d actually be an asset to this environment, because I’m pretty tough,” she says. “But also I have kind of the background that might make a difference. I might not make some of the assumptions that get police officers in trouble.”Still, the black belt and book smarts only her got her so far. Hunt Ahmed never made it through her first week at the academy. On her second day, she became one of about 1,000 recruits who didn’t complete their training at Nashville’s police academy in recent years. An analysis by WPLN News and the investigative reporting center APM Reports finds that women and people of color dropped out at the highest rates. Research shows those officers tend to use force less often than their white, male co-workers, and that they can help to build trust with residents who aren’t used to seeing officers who look like them. Then why are so many of those recruits failing their training courses? Or flat-out giving up before they even make it to patrol? “They said they wanted diversity,” Hunt Ahmed says. “But maybe they don’t want it as much as they think they did. Or maybe they don’t know that adding diversity to your force means that you have to maybe look at your force in a different way.”
‘I can be one these new kind of police officers’
A few years ago, Hunt Ahmed considered herself a “suburban housewife” as she pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Nothing about her life hinted at a career in law enforcement. Except this one thing. A little idea that would pop into her head while she was cooking dinner for her family after a long day of classes. “It sounds kooky, but I would watch ‘Law & Order’ and think, that, like, first of all, it’s really cool to be a detective,” she says. “And second of all, that’s exactly what I’m doing in my Ph.D. work, which is learning to ask questions, follow clues, make connections.” Hunt Ahmed thought her background in social psychology would make her a good candidate for a profession struggling to build trust. She had studied the biases that law enforcement has been trying to root out of its ranks. Plus, she was in good shape. For a while, it felt like an unrealistic dream. But then Hunt Ahmed got divorced and lost her job. So, the Nashville native decided to apply to her hometown police department. Hunts months of interviews, physical exams and even a psychological evaluation, MNPD accepted Hunt Ahmed into the academy in 2018.
“I can be one these new kind of police officers that everybody’s talking about,” she thought.
Hunt Ahmed didn’t expect training to be easy. But she didn’t realize just how high the odds were stacked against her.
Data suggest women and people of color seem to have a harder time at the academy.
WPLN News and APM Reports reviewed 10 years of MNPD data and found that between 2011 and 2020, white men graduated at the highest rate, at 83%. Men of color finished their training about 70% of the time. Women of all races graduated only about 60% of the time. The completion rates were lowest for women of color.
To try to understand the disparities, reporters parsed through hundreds of exit reports for cadets who didn’t complete their training. It’s hard to pinpoint any one reason for these high dropout rates.
Some got injured, failed their law classes or cited “personal reasons.” But in one report after the next, recruits mentioned the stress.
“Trainee Valentine stated that he did not think he was prepared mentally to complete the training program,” one report read.
“Trainee Rodriguez Lima stated he was not mentally prepared for the academy,” academy staff said in another.
“Trainee Thomas said she had a lot of anxiety the first day and when it did not go away, she knew this wasn’t for her,” instructors wrote.
That stress stems from the academy’s boot camp atmosphere. There is running and push-ups and bear crawls. Instructors yelling commands. Any minor infraction can lead to public humiliation. And this all starts in the first week. In the opening scene of a promotional video the police department released a few years back, a drill sergeant paces back and forth. In front of him, a few dozen police recruits stand shoulder to shoulder, heads shaved and dressed in suits. “We pride ourself here at the academy on integrity and professionalism, and we demand it from you,” the instructor barks. The instructor warns the cadets that the months ahead will be tough. “The only easy day was yesterday,” he tells them.” You know the rules. We went through it. You better start abiding by ’em or you will pay.” ‘You’re not even a civilian anymore ’“When you’re trying to create all that discipline, you can create too much conformity,” says Norman Conti, a sociologist at Duquesne University. He has been studying police culture since the 1990s.The researcher once wanted to be an officer. But then Los Angeles police beat Rodney King on camera when Conti was in college. Instead of joining law enforcement, he set out to understand how police became this separate group that felt so far apart from the community. Conti says that divide is intentionally bred at the academy. “While everyone else is running away from gunfire or running away from trouble, you’re running towards gunfire. You’re running towards trouble,” he says. “That’s not what a normal person does. You’ve made this choice.” Conti says this harsh treatment of recruits is how many departments teach cadets what they think it takes to be a police officer. It’s a process he calls “degradation,” and it’s commonly used in the military, fraternities, even gangs. First, you beat people down, tell them they’re worthless. “You’re a recruit,” Conti explains. “You’re not a police officer. You’re not even a civilian anymore. ”Then, gradually, he says, you build them up, as a unit. “As the police academy begins and starts to move, they start to adapt and adopt more and more the paramilitary structure, the paramilitary standards,” Conti says. “And as recruits show that they can live up to those standards, that they can follow those standards, then they’re treated better. ”Hunt Ahmed says that, as a social psychologist, she figured the cadets would be pushed to their limits, both to train for the job and to bond as a group. I do know that some people think that is how you build cohesiveness in a kind of paramilitary organization, ” she says. “And I don’t love that. But I knew that it wouldn’t break me, either. ”Did they want to me to break down? ’Hunt Ahmed didn’t mind being yelled at. But just hours into her training, she started to feel like she was being singled out. She says the instructors called her “lazy” and “fat,” that they told her to go home and watch “The Price Is Right” or “Dr. Phil.” No one seemed to be saying that to the cadets in their 20s.They want to make things difficult,” Hunt Ahmed says. “Did they want me to cry? Did they want me to break down? I don’t know. But I didn’t. ”Hunt Ahmed thought she could handle the stress. She didn’t feel like she was struggling with the physical drills any more than the others. But she says the instructors got mad when she asked questions. In an exit report, they accused her of rolling her eyes and interrupting training staff. They said she pushed an instructor. That she was disrespectful. “And the next thing I know, I’m in the captain’s office,” Hunt Ahmed says. She remembers an instructor telling her: “I’ve been disobedient and not doing what they asked and I have a bad attitude and that I need to resign. ”Hunt Ahmed denied the allegations. She said a film crew had been recording her all day, and she asked to review the footage. But she says the staff wouldn’t let her. Instead, they said she could quit or be terminated. And I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to resign,'” she recalls. “And then they said, ‘OK, we’re firing you.'” So, she was gone, and it wasn’t even the end of the first week. Hunt Ahmed was confused. The department had spent so much time and money to recruit her. She had left behind her teenage daughter, moved hundreds of miles and upended her life to join the force. She wanted to learn. To do better. To be part of a new, more diverse generation of officers. But the academy wasn’t willing to give her another chance. The police — what do they want?” she’s still asking herself, more than three years later. “I’m the person they say they want. But then they get rid of me immediately. ”Hunt Ahmed has sued the city for federal age discrimination. Police referred WPLN News to the city’s legal department, which said it couldn’t comment on the details of the case while it is pending in court. “That said, Metro disputes Ms. Ahmed’s version of the events and is confident in its defenses,” a city attorney wrote in an email. But Hunt Ahmed hopes her lawsuit will push the department to rethink its approach to recruitment. After her experience at the academy, she wonders just how committed MNPD is to diversity.
Monthly Publication : December 2022
Lawsuit argues Ohio's police officers aren't meeting state training requirements
Mariah Crenshaw with the advocacy group Chasing Justice discusses their lawsuit filed in Ohio Supreme Court. [Matthew Richmond / Ideastream Public Media]
December 1, 2021
Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement
Mariah Crenshaw has spent years building a case that officers around Ohio are violating state law simply by continuing to serve as officers.
It started in 2014. Crenshaw runs the advocacy group Chasing Justice, and she wanted to know how the Cleveland Division of Police collects training documentation for officers who are hired from other cities.
In 2017, she started following one East Cleveland officer, Larry McDonald, who went from that small suburban police department to Cleveland then, after a short time, back to East Cleveland.
She sought McDonald’s training records and found he wasn’t up to date with the state’s required annual training when he was hired in Cleveland.
“It just kind of exploded from there,” Crenshaw said.
In 2018, she filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas arguing East Cleveland should remove officers from duty who did not fulfill the state’s required training.
That case remains open. Her investigation has since spread to departments statewide.
In early 2021, as a sergeant in the East Cleveland Police Department, McDonald shot and killed 19-year-old Vincent Belmonte. Crenshaw insists McDonald was illegally serving on the force at the time of the shooting.
East Cleveland Chief of Police Scott Gardner requested confirmation of McDonald's compliance with state training requirements from the Ohio Attorney General's office on Jan. 5, 2021, the day Belmonte was killed and received confirmation on Jan. 14.
Under state law, police officers in Ohio are required to complete up to 24 hours of training a year. The legislature budgets money for the annual training, and the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission (OPOTC), which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, determines what kind of training is required each year.
According to Crenshaw’s court filing, in 2016 for example, officers were required to complete eleven hours of training: two hours on use of force, two hours on de-escalation with a focus on mental illness, four hours on community police relations, one hour on human trafficking and two hours on general law enforcement.
“We found, out of 300 departments we audited, only five were in compliance with the state’s requirements,” Crenshaw said. “The records speak for themselves. They’re not taking the training.”
On Nov. 22, Crenshaw filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court and named Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, state Auditor Keith Faber, OPOTC Executive Director Dwight Holcomb and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.
The lawsuit calls on the state of Ohio to conduct regular audits to ensure that police departments are requiring training and that officers who don’t complete it are removed from duty. It also calls for the removal and prosecution of officers who remained in service after falling out of compliance between 2015 and 2022.
Another issue, according to Crenshaw, is that police departments currently only have to self-report their training each year.
“We have poured through thousands and thousands and thousands of records throughout the state of Ohio and found a disturbing pattern,” Crenshaw said. “No one is watching law enforcement.”
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor O’Malley and Attorney General Yost declined to comment for this story.
Scott Gardner, who took over East Cleveland's police department after Crenshaw’s 2018 lawsuit against the city, said officers in his department are completing the required training. But, he said, it sometimes will happen shortly after the state deadline, and it takes some time for records to be updated.
“I don’t actually know what she feels the remedy is to get back in compliance because, according to her, you’re still out of compliance regardless of what you do to get back in compliance,” Gardner said.
Since Gardner took over two years ago, the department has conducted its own monthly audits of officer training, he said, and they checked with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to be sure they’re in compliance with annual requirements.
He said officers who fall behind on training can still perform other duties in the department.
“Once you fall out of compliance, you do not have arrest powers,” Gardner said. “There’s still jail duties. There’s still reports that can be taken from the officer. There’s still administrative tasks the officer can perform.”
Crenshaw disputes Gardner’s description of East Cleveland policy.
“They ain’t taking nobody off the street,” Crenshaw said.
Part of the problem, which Crenshaw and Gardner agree on, is the lack of oversight from the state.
“I would welcome it. It would alleviate a lot of issues,” Gardner said. “Right now, I should be able to log in to the OPOTC site and see the status of all my officers.”
Jeffrey Scott, the former head of the OPOTC, which also oversees the state police officer training academy, raised alarm bells about the state’s lax monitoring of officer training during his five months in charge of the commission.
In a meeting with Crenshaw, he said she showed them convincing evidence that some departments were receiving taxpayer funds from the state for officer training, but they weren’t completing the proper courses.
“We were just overwhelmed by her findings,” Scott said. “The state really needs to come in and do a comprehensive forensic audit of these records.”
Police departments are required to submit a signed attestation document saying training was conducted as well as spreadsheets showing how many hours and what kind of classes officers completed.
In Crenshaw’s filing in Ohio Supreme Court, spreadsheets submitted to the state by East Cleveland between 2015 and 2017 showed classes like “Responding to Sexual Assault Module 3” and “Awareness of Cultural Diversity” were completed online in seven minutes. Others appeared to take as little as three minutes.
State law requires local departments to submit a certificate documenting the completion of a required training course. According to Scott, OPOTC ended the requirement because there was no place to store them.
“We have an opportunity to fix this and do it right, but it’s unfortunate we have to go in front of the Supreme Court now to fix this,” Scott said.
At the same time, there are many departments that go beyond what the state requires, Scott said. And many acknowledge that the mandated training makes officers safer and better at their jobs.
In 2021, the state did not require training due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the legislature has budgeted $15 million for training next year. Scott said there is less oversight of how that money is spent than any other grants the state sends out to local governments.
“Nobody is watching the hen house and yet we’re sending out millions of taxpayer dollars with no auditing and no verification, other than an Excel spreadsheet and an attestation sheet,” Scott said. “We hold citizens accountable. Why don’t we have that same expectation of the leaders both at the state and our local level to do what’s right?”