St. Paul, MN - Governor Mark Dayton just got the door slammed shut on his plan to create a police training fund named after Philando Castile when the law enforcement training board rejected the name.
A bill which grants $12 million to law enforcement training was drafted by law enforcement, supported by the governor's "Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations," and approved in the House and the Senate.
Governor Dayton's plan was to name the fund after Philando Castile. The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training has rejected naming the fund after Castile, noting that it would be insulting to law enforcement.
“I respect people’s passion about this, but from my standpoint, the board does not want to be involved in sort of partisan, high divisive issues,” said Nate Gove, POST Board executive director, according to Pioneer Press. “We want to actually do the work moving forward that actually leads to some of the very changes that people seek. … That’s what we’ve done for 40 years, and I think the reason that the board didn’t want to get in the middle of that is because it detracts from the work that needs to be done.”
The board had received 2 messages in support of naming the fund for Castile, and 31 messages opposing it. Letters opposing it said that naming the fund after Castile would make a hero out of somebody who died after driving while high on drugs.
Lt. Bob Kroll told the board that there's never been a fund named after anybody, “We’ve had 243 line-of-duty deaths (of) peace officers in the state of Minnesota. It’s never happened for any of them, much of which have died heroically. This is the wrong move to go down this path. … We need to leave politics out of policing. … This in direct response to irresponsible statements made from the onset by our governor. You need to stay the course and not start naming training funds.”
The board voted to maintain the training fund's name as the Peace Officer Training Assistance Fund.
After the Philando Castile shooting, as the investigation was just getting started, Governor Mark Dayton declared that Castile was shot for being black and that the officers responsible would be brought to justice.
Governor Dayton then created a "Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations." The governor handpicked and appointed voting and non-voting co-chairs for the council which included a representative from Black Lives Matter, as well as family members of people who have been justifiably shot by the police.
In his reasoning for creating the council, Dayton blamed the assassinations of officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Palm Springs as being caused by “aggravation” from the community’s relationship with police. The governor also referred to the assassinations as “deaths,” as if they were just some sort of inconsequential accident.
The council is supposed to work to reform police procedures, sentencing reform, prosecutorial discretion, to improve "community health and wellness," and is likely the source of this new training being proposed by the governor.
A year ago, the tone of the Philando Castile shooting was set after his girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath and provided false information about what had happened.
The dash camera video shows that Philando Castile told Officer Jeronimo Yanez that he was armed, then the officer told Castile repeatedly not to reach for his gun.
Philando Castile responded, "I don't have to reach for it," while reaching in the area where his gun was located.
It was later determined that Castile was high on marijuana at the time of the stop, which impaired his ability to listen to Officer Yanez when he was instructed not to reach for his gun. Officer Yanez shot Castile after he ignored orders and reached towards his gun.
A jury acquitted Officer Jeronimo Yanez of manslaughter last month for the shooting.