By staff and releases
Kentucky officials scrambled Tuesday to respond to the latest use of anti-Semitic symbolism or statements to train police and emergency workers.
Jewish leaders were “outraged” by the report, the second of its kind in one month, and are calling for a thorough investigation of the “structural and fundamental problems” within the commonwealth’s law-enforcement agencies.
Manual RedEye, the student newspaper of duPont Manual High School, reported Monday that the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) had included a notorious Nazi symbol, the sonnenrad (dark sun), in a training video clip on drug addiction.
The sonnenrad, a type of sun wheel, is an ancient European symbol appropriated by the Nazis, and later neo-Nazis, for their own uses.
DOCJT provides basic and advanced training for law enforcement officers and telecommunicators statewide.
According to Manual RedEye, the sonnenrad image in the clip came from an anti-Semitic video produced by a white supremacist media company. No overtly anti-Semitic or racist content was included in the six-minute clip, which was part of an in-service training course for telecommunicators titled “911 Response to the Drug Epidemic.” The course launched in September.
Department officials said they removed the symbol as soon as an open records request brought it to their attention.
“The public has my utmost commitment as DOCJT commissioner that our agency will provide ethical and proper training to Kentucky’s peace officers and dispatchers,” Commissioner Nicolai Jilek said in a statement to Community.
Gov. Andy Beshear, in his own statement, called the image, “offensive and absolutely unacceptable.” He promised that “corrective action” would be taken.
“My office as well as the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet continue to work diligently to conduct an internal review of all current and previous training materials,” Beshear said.
Asked during his afternoon press conference if both examples of Nazi imagery in training materials mean something “nefarious” is happening, Beshear said that’s not the point.
“Whether it is nefarious, it’s unacceptable,” he said. “It’s unacceptable no matter what, and it’s got to be fixed.”
The internal review was launched following an Oct. 30 Manual RedEye report of another use of Nazi materials for police training.
The paper reported that the Kentucky State Police Academy quoted Hitler three times in training slide shows dating back to 2011, which also urged cadets to be “ruthless killer[s].” That report led to the resignation of KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer.
The Jewish Federation of Louisville said it was “outraged” by the latest news and called on the governor to make a “transparent top-to-bottom review” of all law-enforcement agencies to effect change.
“It is clear now that there are structural and fundamental problems with the way that Police departments in the Commonwealth operate in areas of recruitment, training, and actual policing,” according to the Federation statement. “The fact that leaders in both KSP and DOCJT thought it acceptable to use Nazi symbols and ideology is just the most recent example of this very serious problem.”