Investigation finds radical-right extremists are teaching hundreds of cops
Man firing pistol at a shooting range. (Shutterstock.com)

On Friday, Reuters reported on new revelations about how a few far-right figures have taken jobs training hundreds of police officers around the United States — focusing in particular on five trainers with extremist views.

"The five trainers have aired views including the belief in a vote-rigging conspiracy to unseat Trump in the 2020 election," reported Julia Harte and Alexandra Ulmer. "One trainer attended Trump’s January 6, 2021, rally at the U.S. Capitol that devolved into a riot, injuring more than 100 police officers. Two of the trainers have falsely asserted that prominent Democrats including President Joe Biden are pedophiles, a core tenet of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Four have endorsed or posted records of their past interactions with far-right extremist figures, including prominent 'constitutional sheriff' leader David Clarke Jr. and Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs, who is being prosecuted for his involvement in the Capitol riots."

One particularly troubling case, the report noted, is Richard Whitehead, who has claimed the country is "on the brink of civil war" and urged police officers to defy COVID-19 health restrictions.

"The Idaho-based law enforcement consultant has taught at least 560 police officers and other public safety workers in 85 sessions in 12 states over the past four years, according to a Reuters analysis of public records from the departments that hired him," noted the report. "A Washington state training commission in 2015 temporarily banned Whitehead from advertising courses on its website because of instructional materials that referred to a turban-wearing police officer as a 'towel head' and contained cartoons of women in bikinis, according to emails from the commission to Whitehead that were reviewed by Reuters."

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"Other marketing literature touted Whitehead’s 'deception detection' technique that, among other things, teaches officers not to trust sexual-assault claimants if they use the word 'we' in referring to themselves and their assailant," the report continued.

In recent years, the extent to which the far right has embedded itself in law enforcement culture has come under scrutiny. A report last year revealed that a leaked list of members of the extremist paramilitary group the Oath Keepers — another organization involved in the January 6 insurrection — included 65 law enforcement trainers.

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