Ohio State has canceled a “force science” training after backlash from groups that said the training perpetuated and promoted police brutality.
The training planned by the Force Science Institute was scheduled for March 12-13 in Ohio Stadium, according to an event post that has since been deleted. The event’s description said the two-day event would provide “science-backed facts about some of the most controversial force issues.”
The institute’s website defines force science as “unbiased scientific principles and processes to determine the true nature of human behavior in high stress and deadly force encounters.”
Issues listed in the event description included why “threatening suspects may be shot in the back by a well-trained officer who made a valid, lawful shooting decision” and “officers, in high-adrenalin [sic] confrontations, will continue to fire what some commentators will judge as ‘unnecessary’ rounds.”
The description said attendees would also learn how “investigators can ‘mine’ officers’ memories and avoid interviewing mistakes that can put the officer, the investigator, and the entire department in jeopardy.”
Ohio State received backlash from advocates against police brutality, including the Columbus-based group Black, Queer and Intersectional Collective, which created a petition for University President Michael V. Drake to cancel the training that gained more than 485 signatures.
The petition called the language of the event description “incredibly disturbing” and stated that training from Force Science perpetuates police brutality by “legitimizing shooting civilians in the back, firing numerous rounds and avoiding slip-ups that could lead to any form of accountability.”
“The Ohio State University Police Division hosting this event under OSU’s name is irresponsible and will directly contribute to the hostile environment Black members of the OSU community and Black people across Columbus are subjected to daily,” the petition stated.
University spokesperson Dan Hedman said in an email that the university has heard and understands community members’ concerns.
“The Department of Public Safety and its police division have decided that Ohio State will no longer host the training,” he said. “Safety, inclusion and a sense of belonging are top priorities at Ohio State. We see this as the start of an important dialogue and a learning opportunity.”
Representatives from the Force Science Institute did not respond to request for comment by the time of publication.
Force Science is staffed by psychologists, lawyers, behavioral scientists and physicians, according to its website. The institute currently has 18 training sessions scheduled across the country for the remainder of this year.
According to its website, Force Science conducts research; provides training and consultation to public safety officers, legal professionals and educators about public safety; and improves officer performance in critical situations.