Where The Bulletproof Warrior Went
Last month, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office withdrew its sponsorship of a "Bulletproof" street survival training course for law enforcement officers after community activists questioned whether the former "Bulletproof Warrior" class should be offered by the department. The most famous alumnus of the two day training is Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Paul, Minnesota officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop. The aftermath of Castile's shooting was posted on the Internet by his girlfriend and viewed by millions when the video went viral on social media.
Calibre Press (www.calibrepress.com), the private company that offers the training, had declined to reveal the new location, but Bay Area residents found out that "Bulletproof" got underway yesterday at the Family Community Church, located at 479 Piercy Road in San Jose and will continue throughout the day on August 18th. It is not known how many members of Bay Area law enforcement agencies are participating.
"Calibre Press training promotes fear instead of the de-escalation that we need from police," said Stephen McNeil of the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee. "We urge people of faith to reflect on whether hosting this training is consistent with Christian values."
The seminar encourages police officers not to hesitate in the use of their weapons. It is taking place during a broad national conversation about police killings of unarmed black people, which have sparked nationwide protests. According to the Guardian's Counted project, 676 Americans have been killed by the police in 2016 and 1,147 were killed in 2015 and victims were disproportionately Black, Native-American and Latino.
Michael Becar, the leader of an international police training association said "...seminars like those offered by Calibre and other firms foster a sense of paranoia among officers." Oakland Privacy member JP Massar commented: "We know that paranoia leads directly to officers shooting at people because they think that toy trucks and cell phones look like handguns."
Urban Shield, the controversial police militarization exposition and training, which features a large weapons expo and Bay-Area wide training drills on proto-military operations gets underway in less than a month on September 8th in Pleasanton, California. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition is calling for a mass demonstration on September 9th. Urban Shield is a public face of police militarization, while private companies like Calibre are private twins.
Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and an Oakland Privacy member commented: "Events like the Bulletproof Warrior and Urban Shield reinforce a culture that pits law enforcement against civilians. Police officers are public servants in our communities, not an invading army. Real safety shouldn't mean that police are afraid of the people and people are afraid of the police. We've seen that unnecessary loss of life is the result".
Santa Clara County sponsorship of the Bay Area session of "Bulletproof" was canceled on July 27 by County Sheriff Laurie Smith who said the training had not been vetted thoroughly by the Department and cancellation was under consideration when they started receiving calls from community members. Smith told Oakland Privacy member Susan Harman that she shared some of the community's concerns and would raise them in the national sheriffs' associations.