Reprinted from FightBackNews.org
Commentary by Ben Grant
Tallahassee, FL - On August 4, the Tallahassee Police Department was hosted by Stronghold SOF Solutions at their facility in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, for training led by Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher is a former Navy SEAL infamous for being court-martialed in 2019 for ten offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Some of the of worst things Gallagher has done include posing in a photograph with the body of a murdered Iraqi teenage prisoner, shooting unarmed civilians in 2017, and, according to the New York Times, “indiscriminately spraying neighborhoods with rockets and machine-gun fire.” He was also charged with obstruction of justice after he sent text messages to other members of Seal 7, saying, “I just got word these guys went crying to the wrong person. The only thing we can do as good team guys is pass the word on those traitors. They are not brothers at all.” As a result of this he was held in the military brig.
On August 8, the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) released a statement claiming that this training was no more than its annual active-shooter response training and that Stronghold “had several of its trainers observing ... and providing input," adding that "Mr. Gallagher was one of those observers." However, that statement is contradicted by posts from both Stronghold Solutions and Eddie Gallagher himself. An Instagram post from Stronghold on August 5 reads, “Training included flat range POl, live-fire shoot house CQB/HR, and TAC MED Scenario training,” and according to an Instagram post from Gallagher that same day, “They were an extraordinary group of men who were ready to train and take on new concepts of shooting and CQB to add to their toolbox.” The abbreviations used refer to aspects of military urban combat.
Stronghold SOF Solutions was created by a former U.S. Army Green Beret and cites the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and National Sheriffs’ Association among its clients. A quote at the top of the company’s website reads, “We preserve the warrior culture by honoring its traditions, we prepare the future warfighter by delivering innovative training solutions, so we can protect those who cannot do it themselves,” with “we prepare the future warfighter” being the key phrase.
Training police officers as active-duty soldiers sets a dangerous precedent where officers see the civilian population as an enemy force. Instead of the police being trained for de-escalation, they are instead trained to be warriors. This “warrior” mentality is reminiscent of the “killology” training given to police departments across the country and that trains police for war in the community.
To add insult to injury, TPD is fully embracing the idea of their police force being closer to soldiers than peace officers, as is illustrated by a new recruitment ad showing the myriad ways would-be police officers can engage in war-like scenarios. One scene depicts an officer with a sniper rifle in a camouflage ghillie suit while others are shown riding on the side of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) assault vehicles or walking in military-style formation through thick smoke. There was no attempt in that ad to recruit individuals interested in community policing, but rather showed how “badass” it is to be a police officer - appealing to people looking for a theater of war right here at home.
What Tallahassee needs is a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), a body made up of working-class and oppressed people that can hold Police Chief Lawrence Revell and City Manager Reese Goad accountable. We cannot have a police force training in tactics of battle under the auspices of a known war criminal.