Oakland Privacy Working Group activists have scored another victory, this time against police militarization.
If Calibre Press is famous for anything, it’s training Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer who shot Philando Castile. The course Yanez took is now called BulletProof. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Calibre recently changed the name of the Bulletproof Warrior course after complaints from police departments about the implications of the word warrior. The two-day session was scheduled for August 17 and 18, under the sponsorship of the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department.
Oakland Privacy, a group of advocates for civil and privacy rights, had been reading about Calibre (pronounced “caliber”) and their street survival courses for cops, when a colleague at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation noticed the near-by Santa Clara County Sheriff was offering the Bulletproof Warrior training in a few weeks.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said courses like those offered by Calibre “reinforce the thinking that everyone is out to get the police… if you hesitate, you could lose your life.” Michael Becar, the leader of an international police training association says “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.”
The community groups alerted all the county supervisors, sent a notice to the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Jose Peace and Justice Center agreed to host an organizing meeting. Peter Kraska, Professor and Chair of the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, who is an expert on the militarization of the police, sent a video of his testimony about Calibre before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The community demand was to cancel the training.
The training 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.