School Climate & Safety

Ky. Police Commissioner Resigns After Student Newspaper Investigation

By Jeremy Chisenhall, Lexington Herald Leader (Ky.) — November 05, 2020 3 min read
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer testifies before a legislative committee in Frankfort, Ky., on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Brewer told lawmakers that over half of the state's cruisers now have been driven over 100,000 miles, making them costly to maintain.
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Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer is resigning from his position effective this week, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet confirmed.

His resignation followed a report that state police training materials used several years ago included quotes from Adolf Hitler and Robert E. Lee, among other historical figures. Some of the quotes encouraged violence. That story was originally reported by the Manual RedEye, the student newspaper at duPont Manual High School in Louisville.

Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday said the state has found more training material with similar information.

“We have identified at least one other PowerPoint that appears to contain some of the same information from the same trainer,” Beshear said during a Tuesday press conference. “We have not yet been able to determine whether it is a different version, whether it was provided at a different time – we want to make sure we get answers to all of those questions.”

The state found the additional training material during its ongoing “top-to-bottom” review of all state police training materials. The review was launched as a result of the initial report. Beshear said the review will help “ensure that we will have the right training moving forward.”

Beshear wouldn’t say if Brewer was asked to resign.

“The Governor, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Kentucky State Police thank Commissioner Brewer for his decades of service,” justice cabinet spokeswoman Morgan Hall said Tuesday. “As of today, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet continues to work diligently to swiftly and thoroughly conduct an internal review of all training materials and will provide information as it becomes available.”

Brewer was appointed to his position by Gov. Andy Beshear in January. He had also served as state police commissioner under former Gov. Steve Beshear. The governor has selected Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Burnett to be acting commissioner once Brewer’s resignation takes effect Wednesday.

The training materials included a slideshow titled “The Warrior Mindset.” It featured a quote from Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence.”

“It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge,” states another quote attributed to Hitler in the PowerPoint presentation that the student newspaper posted online. The presentation also advised trainees to become a “ruthless killer.”

The training materials got national attention and quickly drew criticism from Kentucky elected officials and others.

“It’s not just enough to know that this was a presentation – we think – was only given once, we’ve got to look at all the others and make sure that hopefully it’s an isolated incident,” Beshear said in a press conference Monday. “Even so, we’ve got to make sure the training is where it should be for the world we live in.”

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights said Monday that Kentucky State Police needed to publicly denounce the training materials and identify and correct the “impetus for their inclusion.” The commission also asked state police to focus on racial and ethnic equality and fairness.

“In a time where the actions of police officers are being openly questioned, the existence of these types of values being instilled in our state police force definitely shocks the conscience, and further raises concerns around the culture and purpose of the police force,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission statement came from Gov. Andy Beshear, Executive Director Terrance A. Sullivan and Commission Chair Alma L. Randolph.

State police Sgt. Josh Lawson said in a statement to the Manual RedEye that the quotes were “used for their content and relevance to the topic addressed in the presentation.”

“The presentation touches on several aspects of service, selflessness, and moral guidance,” he said in the statement. “All of these topics go to the fundamentals of law enforcement, such as treating everyone equally, service to the public, and being guided by the law.”

Hall said the training materials were removed in 2013 and aren’t currently used.

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Copyright (c) 2020, Lexington Herald Leader. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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