Kentucky State Police Training Documents Urged Cadets to Be ‘Ruthless’ in Their Violence, Quoted Hitler and Robert E. Lee

Illustration for article titled Kentucky State Police Training Documents Urged Cadets to Be ‘Ruthless’ in Their Violence, Quoted Hitler and Robert E. Lee
Photo: Timothy D. Easley (AP)

A training program for Kentucky State Police quoted Adolf Hitler and the Nazis not once, not twice, but three times, a student newspaper in Louisville recently reported.

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The Manual RedEye, the student newspaper at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, broke the story after being given a copy of a 33-page slideshow used to train police cadets by a local attorney, who received the materials from KSP after requesting materials used to train a detective who shot and killed a man in Harlan County.

State officials confirmed the validity of the training materials, with Kentucky Rep. John Yarmouth (D) saying he was “angry and embarrassed” about the slideshow, which contains direct quotes from Hitler and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as encouraging cadets to be “ruthless” in their violence.

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“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,” Yarmouth tweeted on Friday, Oct. 30. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) also responded to the leaked slideshow, telling the RedEye the documents were “unacceptable” and that his office would “collect all the fact and take immediate corrective action.”

The most attention-grabbing slide has been one advising cadets on “Violence of Action.” With an image of a bald eagle and an American flag as the background, the slide advises trainees to “meet violence with greater violence.”

Kentucky State Police should be able to exhibit “ruthlessness” and “controlled aggression” without anger, the slide notes: “Be the loving father, spouse, and friend as well as the ruthless killer,” it emphasizes in red text.

Beneath that advice are two quotes: one attributed to Albert Einstein (a German Jew, it must be noted) and Adolf Hitler.

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“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing,” reads the quote (likely incorrectly) attributed to Einstein. This is immediately followed by a sentence lifted from Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf:

“The very first essential for success is perpetually constant and regular employment of violence,” reads the quote.

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Elsewhere, Hitler is quoted again, this time with the quote: “It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge,” along with a slide that simply reads, “Über Alles,” a phrase widely associated with the Nazis that means “above all else,” the Washington Post notes.

The slideshow leans heavily into “warrior” iconography and rhetoric, which has been heavily criticized by social justice and legal advocates and some public officials, who say such a mindset encourages officers to use excessive force and abuse their power, writes the Post.

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Lee is also quoted in a section of the slideshow titled, “The Thin Gray Line”—a reference to the KSP’s traditional gray uniforms—saying that masculinity is more valuable than other characteristics.

“Private and public life are subject to the same rules; truth and manliness will carry you through the world much better than policy, or tact, or expediency, or any other word that was ever devised to conceal a deviation from a straight line,” Lee says, in a quote that has aged exactly as well as you’d expect a line from a Confederate general and slave-owner to.

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The quote is complemented by an image of state troopers, all of whom appear to be white.

Morgan Hall, the communications director for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said the slideshow hasn’t been used to train cadets since 2013.

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“It is unacceptable that this material was ever included in the training of law enforcement,” Hall said. “Our administration does not condone the use of this material.”

Still, the materials rightfully raise questions about the values instilled and promoted by state and local police in ways both official and informal. The Kentucky State Police is the state’s second-largest law enforcement agency and assisted Louisville Metro police in their investigation of the fatal shooting of 26-year-old medical worker Breonna Taylor earlier this year. The agency conducted a ballistics report and also aided LMPD officers during racial justice and anti-police brutality protests.

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A spokesperson for the Kentucky State Police told the RedEye they were unsure how many times the training documents were used.

“I’m not aware of an official policy, the quotes are used for their content and relevance to the topic addressed in the presentation,” said Lt. Josh Lawson. “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.”

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

the slideshow hasn’t been used to train cadets since 2013

Oh, well. 2013 was a totally different era.

In all seriousness, the follow up question to that statement is clearly “have officers who were trained with this material prior to 2013 been retrained? Or do you continue to let them believe that escalation of violence is the best way to do ‘Serve and Protect?’”

By the way, Wikipedia says the KY State Police motto is “The Thin Grey Line.” So it doesn’t appear attitudes have changed regardless of whether they use this garbage for training.