Tallahassee: Community members demand answers after local police train with war criminal
Tallahassee, FL – On September 1, members of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee and Florida State University Students for a Democratic Society attended the Civilian Police Review Board to condemn the further militarization of the Tallahassee Police Department and fight for greater autonomy for the Civilian Police Review Board.
The main focus of this month's meeting was the recent TPD training exercise that took place at a Stronghold SFO Solutions facility. Stronghold SFO Solutions is a Florida-based company that offers “tactical training solutions for the warfighter and law enforcement officer.” They aim to “preserve the warrior culture by honoring its traditions” through their training courses. One of their trainers is known as a war criminal. His name is Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher was accused of shooting at civilians from a sniper's post and murdering a defenseless captive in Iraq. He even received criticism for his brutality from Special Operator First Class Craig Miller in the military who said, “this guy is freaking evil.”
The fact that TPD trained at a military type training facility, while being observed by trainers accused of extreme extrajudicial violence, is concerning to say the least. Community members expressed their outrage over the training through public comment and connected it to other aspects of militarization within TPD.
A professor of Middle Eastern Studies explained how war culture, specifically of the ongoing “war on terror,” is brought back into police departments through hiring and trainings. This further entrenches police departments in military techniques. The Civilian Police Review Board has requested a ranking member of the police department attend the next meeting and answer further questions regarding the events that led up to this controversial training.
Another topic that was discussed is the expansion of powers for the Board. After the Tallahassee Community Action Committee President Delilah Pierre gave a presentation on the content and structure of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), the board has continued conversations on how to address citizen demands for board autonomy. The two major powers the board is looking to expand are the power to implement police department policy, and the power to review if department policies were followed regarding cases of community concern.