LEXINGTON, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear and others reacted with outrage Friday after learning Kentucky State Police training materials used quotes from Adolf Hitler and advised trainees to become "the ruthless killer."
The story was initially reported by two student journalists at duPont Manual High School in Louisville and published online by the school's newspaper, the Manual RedEye.
The presentation used in the past was immediately denounced by some for emphasizing violence from police rather than minimizing force and reducing conflict.
The slideshow titled "The Warrior Mindset" includes a quote from Hitler's Mein Kampf: "The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence."
"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge," states another quote attributed to Hitler in the PowerPoint presentation, which the student newspaper posted online.
The slideshow ends with the words "Uber Alles," which Merriam-Webster defines as "above everything else." The phrase is part of an old version of the German national anthem associated with the Nazis.
"This is absolutely unacceptable. It is further unacceptable that I just learned about this through social media," Beshear said in a statement Friday night. "We will collect all the facts and take immediate corrective action."
A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which includes the state police, said "The material is not currently a part of any training materials and was removed in 2013."
"It is unacceptable that this material was ever included in the training of law enforcement," Morgan Hall, spokeswoman for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said in a statement. "Our administration does not condone the use of this material."
State police spokesman Lt. Joshua Lawson said in a statement to the duPont Manual students: "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 document is sprinkled throughout with quotes attributed to others, including Gen. Robert E. Lee, Thurgood Marshall, Gandhi, Alexander the Great, Sun Tzu, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The stated goals of the presentation included helping attendees "understand the importance of having a good value system in combat" and "understand the importance of ethical and moral decisions as it relates to combat."
Jack Glaser, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told the RedEye journalists that "the focus on warriors and combat is deeply problematic" because coming at police work from a "warrior mindset" "can make violent conflict more likely."
There has been much discussion in recent years about the more traditional "warrior" mentality in policing vs. a "guardian" mindset in which the focus shifts toward community partnerships and positive relationships between police and the public.
American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky Executive Director Michael Aldridge called the training materials "repugnant and completely unacceptable" and called on the state police "to conduct an immediate, transparent review of training materials."
"Any cadet who trained with the KSP while these materials were used should be retrained immediately, and the agency should take proactive measures to ensure this type of material is never used when training law enforcement officers," he said in a statement. "As the nation grapples with systemic racism and distrust of law enforcement grows, transparency and community-centric training practices are as important as ever. Training should be focused on de-escalation and conflict resolution, not use of force."
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., tweeted in response to the story, saying "I am angry. As a Kentuckian, I am angry and embarrassed. And as a Jewish American, I am genuinely disturbed that there are people like this who not only walk among us, but who have been entrusted to keep us safe. There needs to be consequences."
Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, director of Chabad of the Bluegrass, denounced the training, saying "the promotion of Hitler, the man responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews, millions of others, and the worse crimes in the modern era, by an agency tasked with serving and protecting our community is shocking."
"The Torah, the Jewish Scripture calls for the formation of Police and tasks them with the responsibility of protecting society," Litvin said in a statement. "This training, however, is a direct affront to that duty, encouraging violence among KSP officers, and quoting generals and murderers."
The student journalists said they obtained the slideshow from an attorney, David Ward of Adams Landenwich Walton, who received it as part of an open records request while working on a lawsuit. A note at the bottom of the RedEye story says the reporters are related to a partner at the company.
Ward received the PowerPoint presentation after asking the state for materials that were used to train a detective responsible for the shooting death of Bradley Grant in Harlan County in 2018, the student newspaper reported.
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