Police federations in Minnesota aren't too happy with Gov. Mark Dayton's idea to name a police training fund after Philando Castile.
Castile was killed by police during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016, and on the one-year anniversary of his death Dayton made the recommendation to the Board of Peace Office Standards and Training that a $12 million police training fund be named in honor of him.
“My hope is that the fund will provide training in the best practices to improve law enforcement's relationships with people in all Minnesota communities, and will also create partnerships, in which community and law enforcement leaders are together designing and delivering that training," Dayton said in a statement Thursday.
The $12 million funding was approved by the Legislature this year, and was drafted by law enforcement officials across the state.
But law enforcement groups in Minnesota think naming the fund after Castile is insulting to officers. In a joint statement, five police federations said the governor is using his power to "fuel deeper divisions between people of color and law enforcement" and he's turning "his back on police officers all over again."
The statement also said the governor "reiterated his opinion that the tragedy never would have occurred if Castile and the passengers in his car were white." (During a news conference Thursday, Dayton was asked if he stood by his statement from last July in which he said race was likely a factor in the shooting. The governor answered: "I stand absolutely by that," according to the Pioneer Press.)
"The governor cannot call for strengthened relationships between cops and the community and insult officers at the same time," Jake Ayers, president of Law Enforcement Labor Services, said in the statement. "That’s not leadership."
Instead, Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, suggested the police training fund be named after an officer who was killed in the line of duty.
State Rep. Tony Cornish, who sponsored the House version of the police training funding bill, said naming the legislation after Castile "seems to be kind of taking sides on the issue" even though Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of a manslaughter in the case, the Star Tribune reports. He also noted that the bill was brought to him by the law enforcement community, the Pioneer Press says.
The federations that released the joint statement were: Law Enforcement Labor Services, St. Paul Police Federation, Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, Minnesota State Patrol Troopers Association, and Minnesota Conservation Officers Association.
The Board of Peace Office Standards and Training will vote on whether the fund should be named for Castile.
Gov. Dayton responds
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Dayton said people took his comments as being critical of law enforcement, "which is just not true" and he's sorry that that's the message that got communicated.
He added he has the "utmost respect and admiration for law enforcement throughout Minnesota."
Dayton also said it's difficult to toe the line between supporting the communities of color who are calling for reform and supporting law enforcement.
The governor met with law enforcement officials around the state Friday to discuss how to improve police policies, Minnesota News Network says. After the meeting, Andy Skoogman, the executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association issued a statement:
"The loss of life under any circumstance is tragic and the natural inclination is to remember the person who died. But there are 10 thousand men and women in Minnesota who put their lives on the line every day as peace officers and many of them view this as undermining their dedication to community policing and the citizens they serve."
Skoogman also said the funding bill was initially called the 21st Century Policing Platform, adding "we believe that is an appropriate name as the bill addresses many of the recommendations laid out in the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing."