‘Killology’ Speaker to Address Erie Police and School Groups
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Local police officers and nearly a dozen area school districts will learn more about school safety this week from an instructor whose past remarks and teachings on deadly force have come under fire.
Dave Grossman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and founder of Grossman on Truth, which conducts seminars on school safety and the effects of the use of lethal force, will give three seminars to police officers, educators and parents on Wednesday and Thursday at Grace Church in McKean Township.
Union City Area School District Superintendent Matthew Bennett said he joined nine other school districts, as well as the Tri-County Northwest Middle Unit, in inviting Grossman, particularly following the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead.
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Bennett called Grossman a “first expert” in responding to deadly threats.
“What he does is he lets people know that if there is an unthinkable action in a school, they have a mission and that is to stop the aggression,” Bennett told the Erie Times-News. “That’s what went wrong in Texas. There was hesitation, confusion, and ultimately a lot of people wondering if things could have been different.”
Grossman, however, is not without controversy.
The 65-year-old former army ranger, who coined the term ‘killology’ as the ‘scholarly study of the destructive act’ and whose teachings involve police having a healthy emotional response to murder, said made headlines in May 2021 when one of its sessions in Michigan was canceled by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.
According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, the association canceled the session after a video posted to Twitter showed Grossman discussing how a police officer experienced “the best sex” after engaging in a violent encounter.
The report also indicated how critics believe Grossman trains police officers to overcome their inhibitions to kill, a controversial practice given the intense debate over policing, the use of force and George’s death. Floyd in Minnesota.
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Grossman, who could not be reached for comment for this article, said in the report that claims about him were inaccurate or distorted, insisting that he does not teach people how to kill but rather a ” form of mindfulness, including a breathing exercise to stay focused and control stress.”
Erie School District Superintendent Brian Polito said he refused to participate in Grossman’s sessions.
“His philosophies around police training don’t align with where we’re trying to go,” Polito told The Times-News. “Right now we are focusing more on a community agent type approach. We are working to have our agents really become part of the support teams in the buildings and building relationships with our students and helping them connect with services who will continue to move them forward.”
“Do not advocate violence at all”
Mike Baldwin, Grossman on Truth’s vice president of operations, said Grossman’s teachings had been widely misinterpreted and insisted that the idea that Grossman encouraged violence was “inaccurate”.
He encouraged the public to read Grossman’s books before judging him and to understand that his teachings are about operating successfully during and after an encounter with deadly force and ultimately saving innocent lives.
He added that Grossman is slowly moving away from the term “killology” because people have a bad impression of Grossman’s seminars.
Grossman on Truth was formerly called the Killology Research Group.
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Bennett added that Grossman “doesn’t advocate violence at all.”
“I saw Lt. Col. Grossman many times and never saw him or heard him say anything inappropriate,” Bennett said. “In fact, his whole goal is to try to help students and communities stay safe.”
Bennett said there will always be controversy surrounding Grossman’s seminars given the nature of the topics.
“When I hear that people aren’t happy with what he may or may not have said in the past, I can understand that and respect that,” Bennett said. “But my goal is to make the atmosphere of our school and our community as safe as possible for students – and this is one person who can do that.”
Millcreek Township Schools Superintendent Ian Roberts, whose district will be attending the seminar, said he hadn’t “spent a lot of time considering the controversy” around Grossman, but rather the benefits he can to bring.
“What my School Resource Officers and I have shared is that he is someone with exceptional military and police experience who has done a lot of research-based work on school safety,” said Roberts told the Times-News.
Thad Urban, the assistant superintendent of the Iroquois School District who is also attending the seminar, also played down any potential controversy, insisting the seminar demonstrates that educators take school safety seriously. .
“Information is information – it’s what you do with it that’s important,” he said.
Who is present? At what hours?
The following school districts have agreed to participate in Grossman’s sessions:
- Fort LeBoeuf
- General McLane
- Union City
Bennett said each school district contributed about $1,300 to pay for Grossman’s appearance as well as the church venue. Bennett said Grossman’s fees were around $14,000. He added that the seminar is restricted to attendees from participating school districts.
The two-day seminar will begin Wednesday, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a presentation exclusively for law enforcement, including school resource officers. Bennett said an invitation was offered to the Pennsylvania State Police. Erie County Sheriff Chris Campanelli told The Times-News he will attend.
A second session on Wednesday, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will be for parents and will discuss how to talk to children about school safety and immediate and long-term solutions to keep them safe.
The third session will take place on Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a presentation for educators.
Bennett said participation is voluntary among all participants.