Could Police Benefit From More Military-Style Training?

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Officer Jason Frederickson, a civilian police officer with the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Provost Marshal's Office, provides rear security while a fellow officer clears a room at Navy Marine Reserve Center aboard MCAS Miramar, California.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Owen Kimbrel

If you haven't heard of Philando Castile yet, you will. He was a 32-year-old cafeteria worker with no criminal record who was shot at least four times by a policer officer during a routine traffic stop on July 6 for a broken taillight. Immediately after the shooting his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, aka Lavish Reynolds, started streaming the incident using the Facebook Live feature.


In the video, Reynolds says Castile was carrying a firearm that he was licensed to carry, and she also says Castile told the officer that he had a firearm as well as a license to carry with identification before being shot. In the video, you can hear Reynolds telling the officer that he gave Castile instructions to produce identification. The cop, still pointing the gun in the direction of Reynolds, yells at her, and screams expletives while Castile bleeds out in front of his Reynolds, her daughter, and the officer. Reynolds is then removed from the vehicle, instructed to get on her knees, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a squad car with her daughter.

WARNING: Graphic Video

I can't help but wonder if the outcome would have been different if this officer had military experience under his belt — or frankly, just more training. In the military, there’s a good chance he would have had advanced firearms training, and he would have had rules of engagement beat into him. Under the rules of engagement, the officer would be well versed in “escalation of force” techniques that service members use to control a situation while mininizing unnecessary risk and injury.

Escalation of force training is not the only type of training that’s clearly lacking. In the military, we are expected to serve with people of all backgrounds and races, and we receive training on how we are expected to interact with people that come from different cultures and races, both within the military and in various countries where we are deployed. If you’re meant to protect communities, you can’t go into the environment with subpar training and expect to succeed in your mission.

Related: How The Rules Of Engagement Save Lives In Combat »

I didn't sign up to protect my country so that U.S. citizens could be killed by those assigned to protect them. I joined the military so that people like Castile and Reynolds could continue to enjoy their lives, their freedoms, and their liberty, without ever being told that they must wear the uniform themselves. When I see police officers and other authorities who don’t have the training to respond correctly to a simple traffic violation, I become enraged because I know from my own military experience that one bad officer can tarnish the reputation of the whole force.

According to The Washington Post, 509 people have been fatally shot by the police in the United States in 2016 alone so far. Four people were fatally shot by police as I wrote this article. And if we continue at this pace, fatal shootings by police officers in this country will surpass last year's total of 990. And while I realize that these police officers are many times very much justified in defending themselves, I also know that there are cases where they are clearly not justified, such as in the case of Castile. I am tired, and the American people are tired, of unnecessary violence and deaths that could be prevented by better training.

Viewing Reynolds’ video, knowing that her boyfriend did not survive, brought me to tears — especially at the thought of her young daughter being a witness and how Reynolds and her daughter will both likely suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder after this. Reynolds must have truly felt helpless while she watched her boyfriend bleed out, and even after she was transferred to a squad car, they made no effort to update her on his condition. When her daughter told her, “It's okay, I'm right here with you,” in the back of the squad car, my heart just fell into pieces.

Americans who choose to a wear a police uniform take an oath similar to those who wear the military uniform: Protect our country and its people. It angers me that there are police officers out there who do not take this oath seriously. By watching this video, I have to wonder if the training this particular officer recieved was adequate for this situation, and if it was, why he felt this amount of force was necessary. Why does it seem that some police officers aren’t being issued proper training in how to handle a routine traffic stop? Why was shooting a man who posed no threat his solution to a problem that didn’t exist?

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

The troops were part of a convoy in Kandahar province that came under attack by a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support said on Monday.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.

Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Super Hercules and one Marine onboard an F/A-18D Hornet were killed in the Dec. 6, 2018 collision that took place about 200 miles off the Japanese coast. Another Marine aviator who was in the Hornet survived.

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A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

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