Kentucky State Police training presentation quoting Hitler is ‘unacceptable,’ governor says

A slide from a Kentucky State Police training presentation quoting Adolf Hitler and advocating "ruthlessness without anger."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear reacted to a report Friday showing a Kentucky State Police training slideshow quoting Adolf Hitler three times and advocating officers to use “ruthless” violence, calling it “unacceptable.”

Students in the journalism program at Louisville’s duPont Manual High School obtained the slideshow from the agency through an open records request and first reported it.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Beshear in an emailed statement. “It is further unacceptable that I just learned about this through social media. We will collect all the facts and take immediate corrective action.”

As reported by the Manual Redeye, one slide in the training material for KSP cadets titled “Violence of Action” tells officers to “meet violence with greater violence” and be a “ruthless killer.”

The slide then quotes 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 dictator in the presentation.

The closing slide of the training states “Über Alles” in large text, a phrase that is associated with nationalism and Nazis in Germany.

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The Redeye reported a KSP captain said in a deposition two weeks ago this “warrior mentality” training was taught to cadets by former Lt. Curt Hall, the assistant commander at its academy from 2005 to 2015 who was later commander of internal affairs at KSP before his recent retirement.

KSP spokesman Joshua Lawson told the Redeye he did not know how long the slideshow was used to train cadets or if it is still used.

“The quotes are used for their content and relevance to the topic addressed in the presentation,” Lawson said. “The presentation touches on several aspects of service, selflessness and moral guidance. 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.” 

Lawson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon from The Courier Journal, though a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet later condemned the training material and said it hasn’t been used for many years.

“It is unacceptable that this material was ever included in the training of law enforcement,” stated cabinet spokeswoman Morgan Hall in an email. “Our administration does not condone the use of this material. The material is not currently a part of any training materials and was removed in 2013.”

The Anti-Defamation League, whose mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and secure justice and fair treatment to all,” tweeted that using Hitler’s words in the slideshow was “inexcusable.”

“ADL is actively working in the state to determine what happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” the tweet read.

Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders, who served as KSP commissioner from 2015 to 2019 under former Gov. Matt Bevin, told The Courier Journal he had never heard of such a training.

Current KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer also served as the commissioner of KSP under the entire eight-year term of former Gov. Steve Beshear from 2007-15.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron also issued a statement to The Courier Journal denouncing the KSP training.

“Why anyone would feel it’s appropriate to quote Adolf Hitler is beyond me,” Cameron said. “I don’t think this is representative of the men and women who serve in the thin gray line.”

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth tweeted he was “angry and embarrassed” as a Kentuckian.

“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,” Yarmuth wrote. “There needs to be consequences.”

Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds called the KSP slideshow “unbelievable” and “disgusting,” tweeting Friday afternoon she had just spoken to an angry Beshear about the story and the agency’s response.

“He was yelling!” Reynolds tweeted. “He is upset and frustrated by the KSP response.”

Louisville has had widespread racial justice and anti-police brutality protests since May, when details of the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in her home by Louisville Metro Police Department officers was made public.

Kentucky State Police and LMPD officers were also accused by many protesters of using excessive force in downtown Louisville, including the use of tear gas and pepper bullets

Many racial justice activists were outraged when none of the three officers who fired into her home were indicted for any felonies involving Taylor’s death by a grand jury, casting particular blame at Cameron, the special prosecutor.

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