The State That Acquitted Philando Castile's Killer May Name A Police Training Fund After Him
One year after Philando Castile's was fatally shot by the police in his car, Gov. Mark Dayton requested that a new Minnesota law enforcement training fund be named after Castile. According to a multimedia release that Bustle obtained in an email from the governor's office, Dayton wrote a letter to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to ask its members to memorialize Castile's death by naming the fund the "Philando Castile Law Enforcement Training Fund."
The Peace Officer training fund is a $12 million bipartisan investment implemented by the state legislature, designed to improve community relationships with law enforcement and to provide more training for "officers working with diverse communities." In an appearance on Thursday, Dayton was joined by members of Castile's family as he publicly recommended that the fund be named in Castile's honor. Castile's death had a "long-lasting, traumatic effect on so many people," Dayton said during the brief appearance.
Dayton also discussed the impact Castile's death had on his family and community in the letter he issued to the POST Board, which administers the new police training fund.
"On July 6, 2016, Mr. Philando Castile's life was tragically cut short," Dayton wrote. "A mother lost a son. A family lost a loving relative, and his community lost an educator and native son. In the following year, a great many Minnesotans have experienced many deep emotions."
Dayton went on to describe the increased tensions between communities of color and law enforcement, and consequently urged law enforcement officials to make changes that would assuage these tensions. One way to do so, he wrote, would be by naming the fund after Castile:
My hope is that the fund will provide training in the best practices to improve law enforcement's relationships with people in all Minnesota communities, and will also create partnerships, in which community and law enforcement leaders are together designing and delivering that training.
During the past year, I have had many conversations about race relations in Minnesota. While they have not produced a consensus regarding what to do next, everyone has agreed that we must urgently take steps to make changes for the better. I ask the Minnesota Board for Peace Officer Standards and Training to increase its efforts to provide leadership in making those changes.
As an important step in that direction, I again respectfully ask the Board to name its Law Enforcement Training Fund in memory of Mr. Philando Castile.
Requesting that the fund be named after Castile was not the only step Dayton took to commemorate the first anniversary of his death. The governor also appointed Castile's uncle, Clarence Castile, to the 15-member POST Board. According to The Washington Post, this appointment means that Castile's family will have a say in the specific training measures implemented by the board.
Last year, shortly after Castile was killed, Dayton argued that had Castile been white, he would not have been shot. "I’m forced to confront, and I think all of Minnesota is forced to confront, that this kind of racism exists," Dayton said at the time. Since then, Dayton has met with Castile's family and other community leaders on multiple occasions to brainstorm possible changes to law enforcement operations in Minnesota.
Castile's family, meanwhile, will commemorate his death with a candlelight vigil and lantern release this week. His girlfriend — who was in the car with her daughter and who live-streamed Castile's shooting — is also hosting an event on Thursday.