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Spokane City Council proposal would condemn ‘Killology” police training

Aug. 3, 2020 Updated Mon., Aug. 3, 2020 at 9:15 p.m.

Protesters raise their hands during a “Hands up, don’t shoot” chant on July 26 during a protest against the previously planned Killology public forum for Spokane County law enforcement.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-R)
Protesters raise their hands during a “Hands up, don’t shoot” chant on July 26 during a protest against the previously planned Killology public forum for Spokane County law enforcement. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-R)

The Spokane City Council may join the chorus of opposition to the controversial “Killology” police training session tentatively scheduled for later this year.

A proposed resolution would formally condemn the proposed event to be hosted by Dave Grossman, a prolific law enforcement trainer and author whose methodology and beliefs have drawn renewed scrutiny in the aftermath of recent protests over police brutality.

“We know that Killology has been found to be dangerous for community members,” said Councilwoman Kate Burke, who sponsored the resolution.

Grossman had been scheduled to conduct a training session for Spokane-area law enforcement officers in October, but Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich suspended the training until Grossman can first participate in a community forum.

The community forum has yet to be scheduled due to potential restrictions on gatherings under COVID-19.

The planned “Killology” training has sparked protests in Spokane, including a demonstration planned for Tuesday. Thousands of people have signed petitions calling for its cancellation.

The resolution warns that Grossman’s training “can increase the likelihood of deadly force being used in our community, can increase the number of people in our community who will be killed by law enforcement officers, and as a general matter, can make us all less safe.”

Knezovich has defended Grossman and the training. He told The Spokesman-Review in June that Grossman’s critics have misrepresented the content of his training, and that it is not “fear-based,” but reality-based.

“We would be negligent not to train our personnel on the fact that you may run into that one person you’re never going to be able de-escalate no matter how hard you try,” Knezovich said in June.

While he prepares officers for the moment they use deadly force, Grossman told The Spokesman-Review that police “can’t take the military model too far.”

“Our goal is never to kill. When we shoot, we’re using deadly force because we sincerely believe there’s imminent threat,” Grossman said.

Critics decry Grossman’s encouragement of a “warrior” mindset among police and his focus on mentally preparing officers to kill someone, instead of teaching a more restrained “guardian” mentality.

The council’s resolution would be nonbinding, but it would discourage city of Spokane police officers from participating in the training and also discourage the use of any city staff or resources to support it.

Burke said the resolution is also meant to back Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, who as president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs signed a statement in June calling on policymakers to “standardize the use of force policies and training centered on the cornerstone principle of the sanctity of human life.”

The resolution was discussed in the council’s Public Safety and Community Health Committee on Monday. It has not yet been voted on.

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