Spokane Cops Read Children’s Book Written by Controversial “Killology” Coach to Preschoolers | Local News | Spokane | The interior of the Pacific Northwest
THElast week, on his Facebook page, the Spokane Police Department posted footage of what at first glance showed perfectly harmless scenes: young preschool and kindergarten children laughing inside a patrol car, children proudly wearing sticker badges and an officer reading a children’s story.
But one to look closer aroused outrage. The story that an officer read to the children? It’s called Sheepdogs: meet the warriors of our nation, and it’s co-authored by Dave Grossman, the guy who founded the controversial “Killology” training that critics say encourages police violence by training officers to see citizens as a threat.
Last year, thousands of Spokane citizens signed a petition calling on Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to cancel planned Grossman training in Spokane, and Spokane City Council subsequently condemned Grossman’s training.
Breean, Chairman of Spokane City Council Beggs says the goal should be to try to bridge the gap between the police and the community, and Beggs argues that Grossman’s trainings do the opposite.
“I reject that worldview and think it’s very counterproductive,” Beggs says.
Julie Humphreys, spokesperson for the Spokane Police Department, said it wasn’t just the police department who picked this book to read at the Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church’s early learning center. The school has the book in its library and invited Agent Graig Butler to read it for the past three years. (The school did not respond to a Interior request for comment Wednesday.)
Still, Humphreys says the department doesn’t see a problem with reading the book.
“SPD supports the book because it describes the role of law enforcement in protecting and serving communities,” Humphreys said. “Agents are paid to keep communities safe and help solve problems. Educating the public, including children, about the role and function of an agent is part of community outreach.
The children’s book, also co-authored by an elementary school teacher, is a digest of the so-called “shepherd dog analogy” popular on the right and introduced by Grossman in his 2004 book, On combat, the psychology and physiology of deadly conflicts in war and in peace. Yes, this is the basis of a famous monologue by American sniper.
Indeed, an extract from In combat explaining the analogy with the sheepdog is presented at the end of the children’s book.
As Sheepdog explains, it’s a worldview that basically boils down to this: there are sheep, representing most citizens who are oblivious – or in denial – of the dangers that surround them. Then there are wolves who want to hurt sheep and don’t care about others. And then, of course, there are the sheepdogs willing to sacrifice themselves to save the otherwise helpless sheep from the big bad wolves.
The children’s book isn’t very subtle about who the sheepdogs are. They are usually police or soldiers – with little distinction between the two. Sheepdogs represents sheepdogs in police or military uniform. At one point, the children’s book shows a sheepdog holding what looks like a military-style rifle crawling under barbed wire.
“It takes a predator to catch a predator, so sheepdogs spend their lives practicing their skills and using force,” he says under the cartoon illustration. “They feed their desire to protect and keep the innocent.”
Grossman’s original sheepdog analogy explains that sheep “live in denial,” although he insists in his essay that he doesn’t mean anything negative by that. On the contrary, he explains, sheep without sheepdogs are like eggs without a shell, and the police, soldiers and “other warriors” are that shell.
The children’s book explains that sheep (the audience) don’t always want sheepdogs (the police) but need their help nonetheless.
“When do they change their mind? When the wolf comes! Then the whole flock tries to hide behind the nearest sheepdog,” the book says.
The children’s story says that sheepdogs can be anyone else willing to sacrifice themselves for other sheep, whether they are in uniform or not. And it ends with a reminder that people are not like animals because they can choose who they want to be. Yet he still only gives those three options: a sheep, a wolf, or a sheepdog.
This shepherd dog analogy is central to the “warrior” mentality that Grossman teaches. And that’s a major part of what Grossman’s critics oppose.
Andrew Biviano, a local civil rights lawyer, argues that instead of warriors, the police should see themselves more as guardians. And there is a big difference. If the police respond to a person with a mental health crisis with a “warrior” mindset, they may find it necessary in some way to. defeat that person, instead of protecting them like any other citizen, he said.
“A warrior mindset says there are good guys and bad guys and we have to destroy the bad guys,” Biviano says. “It is a fundamental problem that it is dangerous to teach our children.”
People who commit crimes are not always “evil wolves,” as the sheepdog analogy suggests, Biviano says. It could be a teenager making the wrong choice to steal who is running away from the police because he is afraid.
“People who have committed crimes are not wolves,” says Biviano. “These are people who made a mistake.”
Beggs also disagrees with the sheepdog worldview – not only with the idea that criminals are always bad, but also that the rest of society is powerless to protect themselves.
“People involved in criminal justice recognize that it is much more complex. Perpetrators are victims too, and victims also potentially become perpetrators,” Beggs said.
While there are certainly life-saving situations for police officers, Beggs says, the sheepdog analogy is overly simplistic.
The Spokane Police Department never formally invited Grossman for training, although Humphreys says some officers may have taken training from other agencies. She says since the school visit last week, community outreach workers have received “a collection of thank you notes from students who have enjoyed her visit and appreciated hearing that the officers are parents too,” neighbors and community members “.
Beggs points out that the officers he speaks to generally don’t consider human behavior as black and white as Grossman’s sheepdog analogy. And although he is “concerned” and “disappointed” that this book was read to children, he says he strongly believes in the First Amendment and does not think the government should decide which books the police can and cannot. read to children. .
Still, he says the outlook for reading this book to children is not good.
“I think it’s great that city employees take the time to interact with the kids. But of all the books that could have been picked up for promotion on our police department’s website,” said Beggs, “I wish it wasn’t that one.”