At a police training seminar in Atlantic City, New Jersey, an instructor displayed a photo of a monkey as he told attendees about his interaction with a 75-year-old black man. Another instructor seemed to mock the LGBTQIA+ community: “He or she, his, her, her, him” — whatever “you want to call people right now.”
And Dennis Benigno, founder of Street Cop Training, who led the seminar and describes itself as the fastest-growing police training company in the United States, told attendees he was looking forward to a vacation. in Colombia surrounded by cocaine, “prostitutes” and poor girls who “need to do things to make money”.
Nearly a thousand police officers from across the country listened to Benigno and the other instructors during the six-day seminar, which cost US$499 (more than R$2,400 at current prices), in October 2021, according to an investigation and images from video released by Kevin Walsh, New Jersey’s acting comptroller.
Tax money paid much of the bill. “We found many examples of instructors promoting views and tactics that were extremely inappropriate, offensive, discriminatory, harassing and, in some cases, likely illegal,” Walsh said in a statement.
In a report, the comptroller’s office recommended that all New Jersey police officers who attended the seminar be retrained and asked the state Legislature to create licensing rules for private training companies.
According to videos obtained by Walsh, the instructors made more than 100 discriminatory or harassing comments. The trainers also provided participants with a checklist of “reasonable suspicion factors” to use in traffic stops — tips that the comptroller’s office concluded were largely unconstitutional and, if employed, could lead to the suppression of evidence.
Benigno is a former correctional officer who worked as a police officer in the New Jersey town of Woodbridge for about 10 years until 2015. In a statement, he disputed the idea that the group had “advocated any practices inconsistent with police Of Quality”.
Benigno said “isolated excerpts taken out of context from a weeklong training” and included in the controller’s report did not adequately represent the instruction provided.
Still, he said the company imposed “more stringent standards for the colloquial and joking language occasionally used by some instructors.”
Benigno also added Christopher Porrino, a former state attorney general who is chairman of the litigation department at a large New Jersey law firm, to his team of lawyers, a spokesman said. Neither Porrino nor Jonathan Cohen, who represented Benigno during the investigation, returned the New York Times’ calls for comment.