Image: Kentucky State Police via Manual Redeye
On Friday, a news website run by students at Dupont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky published an article showing that the Kentucky State Police produced a “Warrior Mindset” training slideshow that quoted Adolf Hitler and Robert E. Lee and urged police in the state to be “the loving father, spouse, and friend as well as the ruthless killer.” It says they must be “able to meet violence with great violence,” have a “mindset void of emotion,” and suggests that police who are nominally supposed to be protecting their community be prepared for “combat.”
The document, created by Lt. Curt Hall at the Kentucky State Police Academy, cites three separate Hitler quotes and is objectively horrifying and should be viewed in full to grasp just how out-of-line it is for state police officers to receive training like this. After the slides were published by brothers Satchel and Cooper Walton in Dupont Manual’s Manual Redeye, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear called the document “absolutely unacceptable.” Rep. John Yarmuth tweeted “As a Kentuckian, I am angry and embarrassed. And as a Jewish American, I am genuinely disturbed that there are people like this who not only walk among us, but who have been entrusted to keep us safe. There needs to be consequences.”
Representatives for the state police say that it is “not currently a part of any training materials and was removed in 2013.”
The Walton brothers told Motherboard that they originally got the tip for the article from their father, who is an attorney at the Adam Landenwich Walton law firm. He’s currently working on a case in which Kentucky State Police shot and killed Bradley Grant in Harlan County in 2018, the brothers said. Their father became aware of the training slides as part of discovery.
“He texted it to a family group chat and said ‘Look at what we uncovered in discovery with the case,’” Satchel Cooper said. Satchel said he thought “this is a big-big deal. There needs to be a story about it because it’s outlandish and it’s big news.”
Satchel is a junior who has taken two journalism classes at Dupont Manual’s journalism and communications magnet program, and cofounded Kentucky Green Reports, a student-run environmental news website. Cooper is a freshman; this is his first article and his “first time doing journalism,” he said.
The brothers decided to publish it in the Manual Redeye because they could get editing help from the news website’s student editors as well as its faculty advisors.
“When we saw the slideshow we knew there were lots of people we needed to talk to to get context,” Satchel said. “We wanted to get it reviewed and edited by the journalism teachers and editors, they were our best resource there.”
Both of the brothers said they realized this was a huge story, and Cooper said that they “felt the need to be particularly careful on this because we knew it was a big deal. A lot of people would be seeing it and we wanted to make sure we got everything right.” They said they spent about two weeks working on the story.
Satchel said the response has been “bigger than I initially thought it’d be.”
“When it was published I went to the park to play a game of cards with friends—socially distanced,” he said. “I had to rudely leave because I was getting calls from Andy Beshear’s press people saying they had comment in it. But I think the response has been appropriate. A lot of people have been appropriately outraged. I was shocked when I initially saw it. It’s not like this one fellow who made this training and liked Hitler. He thought the culture at [Kentucky State Police] would accept that.”
Both of the brothers said they plan to explore a career in journalism and that they plan to continue to follow the story. Cooper said that “seeing what I could do with my words was really impactful.”