Dayton calls for police training fund to be named after Philando Castile

- Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for a new law enforcement training fund to be named after Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota one year ago.

On July 6, 2017, Philando was fatally shot by St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. Last month, Yanez was acquitted of all charges, including second degree manslaughter and endangering the safety of Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter, who were also in the car.

Dayton called the fatal officer-involved shooting one of the most traumatic events of his two terms as governor. He said he still stands by the statement he made last year after the shooting, that Philando would not have been shot if he was not black.

Dayton recently sent a letter to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board requesting that its members name the new $12 million investment in local police training be named the “Philando Castile Law Enforcement Training Fund.” The fund was enacted by the state Legislature to provide more training opportunities for law enforcement officers working with diverse communities.

“It’s only by working together that people won’t feel estranged from one another,” Dayton said at a press conference Thursday.

Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, and other members of his family attended the press conference alongside Dayton. Valerie also expressed the need for extra police training. 

“This is not about my son anymore,” she said. “We need this extra training for our police officers because at the end of the day everyone wants to go home.” 

Dayton also appointed Philando’s uncle, Clarence Castile, to the POST board. He is a member of the Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations and was recently named as a reserve officer in the St. Paul Police Department.

Police response to Dayton's decision

“Today is a day that should serve as a tragic and solemn reminder to all Minnesotans that we need to focus on increasing mutual trust and good will between police and the communities they serve,” said Jake Ayers, president of Law Enforcement Labor Services. “Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton decided to use the occasion to insult cops and kick law enforcement to the curb once again.”

“The Governor sure has a funny way of calling for improved police and community relations,” said Dave Titus, president of the St. Paul Police Federation. “Instead of providing thoughtful leadership on the one-year anniversary of a tragic event he holds a news conference and completely turns his back on police officers all over again.”

“Here’s a bill that was originally drafted by members of the law enforcement community, sponsored by a former police officer, Rep. Tony Cornish, and increased from $10 to $12 million,” said Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. “If we’re going to honor somebody with a law that provides critical training for cops, how about naming it after an officer killed in the line of duty?”

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