The Free Thought Project has been given photos and background on Philip Brailsford—the cop acquitted for murdering an unarmed innocent father of two—which paint a much different picture than a cold-blooded killer.
Before Brailsford embarked on a career that would come to an end after he shot Daniel Shaver five times with his AR-15—enscribed with the words, “You’re Fucked”—he would devote years of his life to helping others.
In 2010, Brailsford, like many of the Mormon missionaries before him, would travel to Ecuador to help people and to spread his faith.
In the above photo, a much younger and far more innocent Brailsford poses for a photo in Ecuador while on mission.
In another photo, the ‘Elder’ Brailsford posed under a photo Jesus Christ with his fellow missionaries, carrying out his mission of spreading the word of god.
Sadly, however, Brailsford, although he devoted a large portion of his life to spreading peace and love of God and helping others, he would return to the United States and kill an innocent father.
What turned this man:
Into this man?
While TFTP will not pretend to have psychoanalyzed Philip Brailsford, this is not necessary to grasp the alarming trend among police that has been increasing over time.
Policing in the United States metamorphosed drastically over the last few decades after the NDAA in 1990 allowed departments to obtain surplus military equipment free of charge. With the weapons and gear of war likewise came the warrior ethos. Though unprepared to handle accouterments of the battlefield, hapless American police waged war on the very communities in their charge — an epidemic level of violence by law enforcement has since erupted.
And the military-industrial complex is still making a killing (literally and figuratively) at taxpayer expense from the transformation of small-town police forces—“kitted out with Marine-issue camouflage and military-grade body armor, toting short-barreled assault rifles, and rolling around in armored vehicles”—into extensions of the military.
Plain and simple, police are being trained to see the people they serve as the enemy. This mindset, coupled with the fact that officer safety is paramount above all other things—including innocent children—has produced countless Philip Brailsfords.
There are hundreds if not thousands of cops in departments across the country who are just like Philip Brailsford. They are taught, through rigorous training and years of propaganda that a cop can do no wrong. Sadly, this is the main problem and it is evident in Brailsford’s acquittal and the countless other killer cops who are never held accountable for their murderous actions.
If we are to end or at least significantly curb the unnecessary brutality, militaristic police training must end. As intuitive as it might sound, ending the stress-based, boot camp-style instruction — currently the model for the majority of police academies — would transform American policing.
Even the Department of Justice agrees stress-based police training needs to go — in a 2013 issue of Dispatch, the newsletter for its Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the DoJ essentially proves the need to end militaristic training. Two models are generally employed by the nation’s police academies, the article noted, explaining:
“Stress training is modeled after military boot camp, characterized by paramilitary drills, daily inspections, intense physical demands, public discipline, withholding privileges, and immediate reaction to infractions. Non-stress recruit training is associated with a more relaxed academic or collegiate atmosphere, characterized by emphasis on academic achievement, a relaxed instructor/trainee relationship, and administrative disciplinary procedures.”
According to a report from the DoJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the majority of law enforcement training programs in the U.S. use the stress model. Considering the description of the stress model, alone, the root of violent policing becomes clear — though its proponents believe beneficial aspects outweigh potential negatives. Self-discipline, what’s known as ‘command presence,’ and higher self-confidence frequently top the list of reasons given to continue stress-based training.
This training produces officers who fear for their lives and fire 5 shots into innocent unarmed fathers who are falling over trying to comply with a ridiculous and deadly game of Simon says.
As TFTP has previously reported, the Salt Lake City PD saw this violent tendency and sought out to change it. They are now proud of their new de-escalation program, even offering officers incentives and awards for deescalating encounters with citizens. One such encounter was captured on video, and Brown says there have been 37 such instances since the program was enacted in 2016.
Chief Brown stated, “The Salt Lake City Police Department is probably one of the leading agencies in the country as far as how we train and deploy and use these tactics to de-escalate and save lives.”
As TFTP previously noted, the state of Utah had an epidemic of officer-involved shootings —“deadly force by police surpassed even violence between spouses and dating partners.”
That was then. This is now. After their training in de-escalation, the department went from being one of the deadliest departments in the county to going on a record string without killing anyone.
Until we realize that Philip Brailsford is not the exception but, instead, the rule—we will continue to see things get worse. If we really want police to stop killing people, we need to stop teaching police to be killers.
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