After departments withdraw from controversial police training, owner talks Castile case

"To thumb our nose at that chunk of our community, just to me isn’t something we want to do."

Edgar Linares
May 16, 2018 - 5:06 pm

(Photo by Mark Vancleave/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA)

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The controversial police training called BulletProof got underway at the Mall of America in Bloomington on Wednesday without any officers from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office or the Minneapolis Police Department, as both agencies pulled out of the program this week.  

The training came under scrutiny after it came to light that Saint Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez attended the course two years before he shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in the summer of 2016. Some critics have said its approach can instill fear and paranoia in officers, with the Castile shooting being an example of what can happen as a result.

But the officers who stayed in the course — including some from the Anoka and Chisago Counties Sheriff’s Offices — will be covering the Yanez/Castile case in their training.

Jim Glennon, the owner of Calibre Press and a former police commander, says the training is being mischaracterized and focuses on de-escalation.  For two days, he says officers watch police videos, a vast majority are videos of officers making mistakes. The Yanez video is included in the list. 

Glennon sees the case of as an example of the role of bias — Yanez, he says, had a bias against Castile because he thought Castile was an armed robbery suspect. That bias, in turn, caused him to approach the situation differently, Glennon said.

“Yanez, when he walked up he was right in the window and actually leaned right into the window, which is contrary to training,” said Glennon. “If he’s leaning towards somebody who has a gun and he thinks is dangerous, that probably heightened his stress level and his perception of the events that are taking place right before his very eyes.”

Glennon says they believe Yanez, who’s no longer with the Saint Anthony Police Department,  believed that he was “under deadly force threat,”  when he fired his weapon. Yanez was acquitted by a Ramsey County jury.

But Glennon's attempts to update the program didn't satisfy some community members, who gathered to protest at the Mall of America as the training got underway. It also wasn't enough to stop two of the state's biggest departments from pulling out.  

Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Steve Frazer pulled ten deputies from the training. He says it was an easy decision.

“To have a group of people that we serve feeling that this training is inappropriate for us, that’s their feeling and their position. And to thumb our nose at that chunk of our community, just to me isn’t something we want to do,” Frazer said.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo voiced a similar concern when explaining his reasoning for withdrawing officers from his department. "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. We do not want to attend any training that could, in any way, shake the foundation of trust," he wrote in a statement on Facebook.