Our view: Dayton's idea is a good one
Herald editorial board A good idea is emerging in Minnesota. In the wake of the 2016 death of Philando Castile, Gov. Mark Dayton is hoping average Minnesotans can be more involved in police officer training. Dayton said last week "we all need to ...
Herald editorial board
A good idea is emerging in Minnesota. In the wake of the 2016 death of Philando Castile, Gov. Mark Dayton is hoping average Minnesotans can be more involved in police officer training.
Dayton said last week "we all need to learn to live together." He said that on July 6 while pushing $12 million to police departments throughout the state to put the idea into action.
July 6 was the one-year anniversary of Castile's death. He died in a Twin Cities suburb after being shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. The aftermath of the incident was captured on cellphone video by Castile's girlfriend, and it created a racial firestorm in the months following. The officer last month was found not guilty, sparking outrage nationwide.
Recently, we said that - based on evidence - we agree with the jury's ruling. We still feel that way. But we also believe better relationships must be forged between police and the public, and Dayton's plan is a good step in that direction.
Following the shooting, Dayton established a council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations, which suggested this new training program. Dayton also put Castile's uncle, Clarence Castile, on the training board. The uncle has emphasized the need for de-escalation training as a way to more effectively reduce in-the-field tensions. He suggests officers be trained to "see what is going on before you act."
While the police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of charges in the death of Philando Castile, video evidence from his squad car does show Yanez was greatly agitated in the moments leading up to the shooting. Castile told Yanez that he was carrying a firearm and evidently made motions that Yanez found threatening, even as Yanez repeatedly yelled "don't pull it out."
Was Castile reaching for the gun? Or was he just reaching for his identification, as he claimed after he was shot?
Did Yanez overreact? Or was he justified to feel his life was threatened as Castile reached into a pocket?
Obviously, it's a high-pressure situation few will ever experience.
Can more training help police acquire skills that could help avoid escalating tensions? It can't hurt. Involving the public is a good idea. Involving minorities is a great idea.
Dayton said last week the plan will work "only by them coming together and working together and recognizing the common cause we all have."
And here's an idea: Maybe some of the $12 million could be put to use educating civilians, via the internet or public service ads, on how to react to police officers. For example, we believe many civilians could better understand the meaning of two words: "hands" and "comply."
And civilians could benefit if they, like officers, underwent "Shoot/Don't Shoot" training, so they better comprehend the stressful environment in which officers work.
These are just ideas. Either way, Dayton has done the right thing by starting this innovative program.