Police board declines to name training fund in Castile's honor

Memorials were left Saturday morning at J.J. Hill Elementary.
Memorials were left Saturday morning, June 17, 2017, at J.J. Hill Elementary School in St. Paul, where Philando Castile was a cafeteria supervisor.
Peter Cox | MPR News File

Updated: 3:30 p.m. | Posted: 1:30 p.m.

Despite a recommendation by Gov. Mark Dayton, the state police licensing board declined to name a new $12 million law enforcement training fund after Philando Castile.

The board voted 8-2 to keep the fund's original name. The two members who opposed that motion are the board's public members, one is Castile's uncle, Clarence Castile.

Philando Castile was shot and killed by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016. A Ramsey County jury acquitted Yanez on all charges last month. He's since agreed to leave the police force.

The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST board, declined the governor's recommendation to call it the Philando Castile Law Enforcement Training Fund at a meeting Thursday morning in St. Paul.

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The $12 million appropriation passed by the Legislature last session will pay for crisis intervention, de-escalation training and diversity training for police across the state.

Thursday's board meeting was the first for Clarence Castile, who was appointed by Dayton earlier this month. Before the vote, Clarence Castile said naming the fund in honor of Philando Castile would show good faith on the part of law enforcement.

"It bridges a gap, it renews, it reinstates relationships," Castile told his colleagues on the board. "It's that olive branch that's been extended by law enforcement and government, saying that, 'We want to try to start to rebuild a positive relationship.'"

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Federation of Minneapolis, said during the meeting that the governor's recommendation to name the fund in honor of Castile was a continuation of Dayton's "irresponsible" comments about Castile's death.

"Never have we named a training fund after a person. We've had 243 line of duty deaths of police officers in the state of Minnesota. It's never happened for any of them, much of which have died heroically," Kroll said. "We need to leave politics out of policing."

The board received written comments from law enforcement groups that opposed the name change. Some members of the public at Thursday's meeting complained the general public hadn't been informed that they could also give input about the name change.

After the vote, Philando Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, called the meeting a "Houdini" act.

"They went through the motions to say, 'You got a fair deal,' but it's not," Valerie Castile said. "It's just a pitiful shame that they voted against it when the governor recommended it."

After the meeting, as she boarded an elevator she said, "Shame on Minnesota."

In a statement, Dayton said he stands by his "recommendation to name the fund after Philando Castile, but I have always known the decision was the POST Board's to make."

The POST Board is made up of two members representing the public, eight law enforcement officers, a representative of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, three representatives of law enforcement training in higher education and one elected official from a town with a population under 5,000. Clarence Castile will be appointed to the board's training committee.