The Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass is deeply troubled by the recent revelation of a 2013 Kentucky State Police training presentation, “The Warrior Mindset,” which included multiple quotations from Adolf Hitler, and linked Nazi-era terms with American patriotic imagery. It shocks the conscience that an officially sanctioned KSP training presentation would approvingly quote Hitler’s statement that “The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence” and then, two slides later, include the iconic picture of US Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima with the Nazi-affiliated, German words “Über Alles,” superimposed on the top. As Jews and as Americans, we find that these and other images and quotations in the presentation, including a declaration by Robert E. Lee, reveal an appalling moral and historical illiteracy.
Just as troubling as these particular quotations and images are, is the general ethos of the entire training presentation. This training presentation, intended for Kentucky state police officers, is filled with references to, and images of, combat that would be entirely appropriate for a military confrontation with a heavily armed enemy invader. The mentality this training presentation fosters frames peaceful citizens and residents as an “enemy” to be defeated, not as fellow community members whom the police are supposed to serve and protect. When coupled with systemic racism and implicit bias that infuse our public and private institutions, the results have been deadly, especially for Black communities, as recent tragic events have shown.
We applaud Governor Beshear’s and other state officials’ repudiation of this offensive presentation. Much more, however, needs to be done. First and foremost, we urge the Kentucky State Police to reject the “warrior ethos” that militarizes police training and operations. Police, like others who have occupations involving danger, are not warriors. They are our neighbors, friends, community members, and fellow citizens. For the safety of all Kentuckians, we call on the Kentucky State Police, and all law enforcement organizations, to return to a public safety mindset based on guarding and protecting communities rather than on conquering and occupying them.
For questions, please contact Ken Slepyan and Larry Kant, Community Relations Committee Co-Chairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.