The St. Louis Police's "Highly Entertaining" Michael Brown Course Is Highly Offensive

The St. Louis Police's "Highly Entertaining" Michael Brown Course Is Highly Offensive
Source: AP
Source: AP

The St. Louis County police are going back to school, but they're missing a much-needed lesson.

After realizing how poorly they handled the shooting death of Michael Brown and ensuing outcry in Ferguson, Mo., some members of the St. Louis Police Department will complete a rollicking all-day seminar on how to employ strategies to "win with the media."

The class, held at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy and slated for Oct. 24, is billed on a widely circulated flyer as a "fast-paced class... jam-packed with... essential strategies and tactics, skills and techniques." It will offer a "detailed case study of Ferguson." 

The flyer promoting the class calls Brown's death "tragic," but promised that the course would be "highly entertaining," making this the most tone-deaf class ever. The topics include "Feeding the Animals" (who would those be in this context?), "Meet the 900-Pound Gorilla," "'No comment' is a comment" and the bluntly titled "Managing the Media When Things Get Ugly (think Ferguson)." And no boring PowerPoints! 

The class is targeted for the "upper-echelon law enforcement professionals" who come in contact with the media often. However, the nine-hour session is limited to 80 students and costs $75. (It's unclear if lunch is included.) Yahoo! News reached out to the department to see how many officers have signed up, but a representative has yet to respond. 

Response to the class has been quick and critical. Activist Shaun King lambasted the course on Twitter, in particular to the choice of the "animals" imagery.

Considering the long-simmering racial tensions between the St. Louis County police and surrounding communities, the framing of this course comes off as offensive at worst and inappropriate at best. It looks like the St. Louis police will need another PR class just to deal with this PR disaster. But don't worry: According to the St. Louis Police Academy, at least they'll "learn a lot and have fun doing it!"

h/t Think Progress

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Jordan Valinsky

Jordan is a writer at the Live News desk. He's previously written for The Week, Betabeat, The Daily Dot and CNN.com.

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