Minneapolis made a significant financial investment in Mohamed Noor.
The officer who fatally shot Justine Damond graduated in 2015 from the city’s accelerated police cadet program. The seven-month training is a quicker, nontraditional route to policing aimed at helping those who already have a college degree enter law enforcement.
The Minneapolis program covers tuition at Hennepin Technical College and pays trainees a $20-an-hour salary with benefits while they work to get licensed. After that their salary bumps up.
More than a year into the job, Noor, 31, rose from a beat cop’s obscurity to international headlines after shooting Damond, a 40-year-old spiritual healer from Australia, after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her southwest Minneapolis home. When she approached the driver’s side window of the squad car, Noor, who was in the passenger seat, fired across his partner in the driver’s seat, killing Damond.
Since then the MPD has been dogged by questions about Noor’s experience and training. On the night of the shooting, he was paired with officer Matthew Harrity, who had been a cop for about one year.
Some law enforcement professionals say the cadet program and others like it are exactly what policing needs — a way to attract more diverse people with broader life experiences. The average age of the more than two dozen aspiring officers in Noor’s cadet class was around 30. It included a former firefighter pushing age 50.
Before heading into law enforcement, Noor worked in commercial and residential property management and managed a hotel. He has a degree in business administration, management and economics from Augsburg College.
Former police chief Janeé Harteau, who resigned late Friday, stood by Noor’s training last week.
“We have a very robust training and hiring process,” Harteau told reporters at a news conference on Thursday. “This officer completed that training very well, just like every officer. He was very suited to be on the street.”
Not everyone is sold on the fast-track training. In Minnesota, the more traditional route to a job as a peace officer includes a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field. The state is unique in its educational requirement for officers, although Wisconsin has a similar requirement.
James Densley, who teaches criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, said he thinks too many cadet programs are “all tactics and no strategy,” overemphasizing assessing threats and conducting tactical protocols.
“The cadet program is rigorous, no doubt, but it is also an immersive paramilitary experience, taught by practitioner faculty without advanced degrees, and I suspect it leaves students with a limited view of the profession,” Densley said.
Critics of police training across the United States have called it long on command and control and short on instructing common sense approaches to slowing down confrontations and defusing hostile situations.
SOURCE: Jennifer Bjorhus