Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Friday reacted to reports of a previously removed state police training slideshow that appeared to quote Adolf Hitler three times and urged officers to be “ruthless.”
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Beshear said in an emailed statement that the inclusion of the quotes was “absolutely unacceptable.”
“It is further unacceptable that I just learned about this through social media,” the governor added. “We will collect all the facts and take immediate corrective action.”
Student journalists at Louisville’s duPont Manual High School first reported on the slideshow Friday.
The high school’s newspaper, the Manual Redeye, later added a statement it received from Morgan Hall, the communications director for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, saying that the slideshow was removed in 2013 and “is not currently a part of any training materials.”
“It is unacceptable that this material was ever included in the training of law enforcement,” Hall added.
The Manual Redeye obtained the slideshow through an open records request by local attorney David Ward during the discovery phase of a lawsuit.
Ward requested Kentucky State Police (KSP) materials used to train a detective who shot and killed a man in Harlan County in May 2018.
According to the student news outlet, one slide, titled “Violence of Action,” instructed officers to be “ruthless killer[s],” to have a “a mindset void of emotion” and to “meet violence with greater violence.”
The slide also reportedly included a line from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” — “The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence” — one of three from the genocidal German leader included in the presentation.
KSP spokesperson Lt. Joshua Lawson wrote in an initial emailed statement to the Manual Redeye that he was not sure how many times the presentation had been used by the police department but added, “The quotes are used for their content and relevance to the topic addressed in the presentation.”
“The presentation touches on several aspects of service, selflessness, and moral guidance,” Lawson continued. “All of these topics go to the fundamentals of law enforcement such as treating everyone equally, service to the public, and being guided by the law.”
In a separate email, the spokesperson said that the presentation was seven years old and appeared to have been made by a police academy instructor.
This comes after months of protests in Louisville and across the country in response to the killing of Breonna Taylor while city police were executing a search warrant on her apartment.
More fervent calls for justice in Taylor’s case grew after a Louisville grand jury in September announced that it would not be filing charges against any officers in connection with Taylor’s death, although it did indict one officer on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for firing bullets into neighboring apartments.
Kentucky State Police and Louisville officers have been accused of using excessive force against protesters, including through the use of tear gas and pepper bullets.