Minnesota Governor Urges Police Training Fund To Be Named After Philando Castile

Gov. Mark Dayton recommended Thursday that a new $12 million law enforcement training fund be named for Philando Castile, the man shot and killed one year ago by a St. Anthony police officer. 

Speaking at the State Capitol as Castile’s family members flanked him, Dayton called Castile’s death “one of the most traumatic” events during his more than six years as governor. The shooting drew new attention to concerns of black Minnesotans that they have been unfairly targeted by police, and Dayton said it’s clear Minnesota needs to do more to help officers strengthen community relationships in an increasingly diverse state.

“We all need to live together in this state, peacefully, harmoniously, constructively,” Dayton said. “It’s my hope this training will really be focused on that occurrence, and making that a reality.”

But a coalition of law enforcement unions said Dayton’s suggestion was insulting to cops. A news release from the group said that it would “fuel deeper divisions between people of color and law enforcement.” The statement came from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the St. Paul Police Federation, the Minnesota State Patrol Troopers Association and several other organizations that represent law enforcement personnel.

“Instead of providing thoughtful leadership on the anniversary of a tragic event, he holds a news conference and completely turns his back on police officers all over again,” said Dave Titus, president of the St. Paul Police Federation.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis union, said the fund should be named instead for an officer killed in the line of duty.

On Friday, Dayton is scheduled to meet privately with the current and former executive directors of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, and with a group of police chiefs from across Minnesota.

He has stressed often, as he did again Thursday, that he believes all but a very few police officers are committed to serving the public.

Dayton, a DFLer, included the naming request in a formal letter to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board, the group of law enforcement officers and community members that will sort out how to use the new training money.

The Legislature approved the funds earlier this year, adding $2 million on top of Dayton’s original $10 million request. The money is likely to be distributed among police departments across the state.

The POST board will help determine the focus of the training, and it also must sign off on Dayton’s request to name it for Castile. That request, and the additional training, won the backing of Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile. She said she believes that police and community members share the same goals but that both could use more guidance in how to interact.

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Source: Star Tribune | Erin Golden