Police expert predicts Minneapolis’ future under consent decree: ‘crime skyrockets, cops leave’

Dr. Travis Yates, a police training expert and retired police major, reflects on Mayor Frey's ban on "warrior training" and how a lack of leadership has compromised the Minneapolis Police Department.

In an interview with Liz Collin, Dr. Travis Yates recalled his feud with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey about the ban of so-called "warrior training" in 2019. (Alpha News)

In an interview with Liz Collin, Dr. Travis Yates recalled his feud with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey about the ban of so-called “warrior training” in 2019 — and how the consequences may relate to the killing of Officer Jamal Mitchell.

Dr. Yates — a police training expert with decades of experience in training, recruiting, and leadership — discussed misconceptions about police training and how the recent murder of a police officer could have been avoided. “Minneapolis isn’t just another police department — and Officer Mitchell is not just another line of duty death,” he said.

In looking back at leadership and training in Minneapolis, Yates explained, “I’ve been speaking on these issues for many, many years, and specifically I’ve spoken on this issue at the Minneapolis Police Department for years. This hasn’t made me popular with a few in your city, but popularity doesn’t change things. Popularity doesn’t make the community safer. So, I’m not really interested in that. My desire is to see our community safer.”

More specifically, Yates explained, “What I saw was a deception being played out. I saw leaders lying to the community, taking things out of context. Over time, I knew that that’s going to erode public trust and eventually erode public safety — and of course erode officer safety.”

Yates called out Mayor Frey’s ban on ‘warrior training’

In 2019, Yates was involved with a very public argument about what Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called “warrior training,” which Yates disputed, claiming that such training “doesn’t even exist.”

Yates explained that Frey “hadn’t been to the class” and didn’t seem to understand the significance of terms like “warrior” and “guardian” and other key principles that guide the relationship between the public and the police. Mayor Frey banned the so-called “warrior training,” but to help Minneapolis police officers, Yates offered an online training program to MPD officers for free in partnership with Law Officer.

Yates also pointed out another key circumstance. “It’s important to understand that this environment in Minneapolis didn’t just happen overnight. It’s been very obvious over the years that what was once a great city has really declined. I know that there are some leaders in Minneapolis that will dispute that, but the country knows that. It began many years ago when leaders within the city were lying to the public and the police leaders were lying with the public,” Yates said.

Persistent problems in police training?

While the feud over “warrior training” happened in 2019, Yates noted how police training within the Minneapolis Police Department hasn’t necessarily improved over the years.

Yates also marked the words of Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara, who recently said police training was too focused on tactics and safety. Yates said, “Man, I bet he wants those words back now. I mean, that’s insanity to me — training is too focused on tactics and safety?”

“You take all the things that leaders have said … then you also recognize that Minneapolis cops are in prison at this moment for following policy and training that the agency put out. Officers are having to do mandatory overtime. This is clearly an environment that does not promote safety. It does not promote wellness. Let’s look at what’s coming, too. The use of force policy is a draft on the website right now at MPD. It’s literally one of the craziest policies I’ve ever seen. And there’s a section that mandates that officers must promote trust while they’re using force. Does anyone understand how insane that is?” Yates asked.

Dr. Yates: Consent decrees can’t fix a lack of leadership

In pointing to how problems with officer training, safety, and tactics have become even more complicated, Yates explained how “with not one consent decree, but two consent decrees, the state and a federal consent decree … the disaster you’re currently seeing in Minneapolis is only beginning. That’s not a prediction. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact because I have studied in every city under a consent decree in the last 30 years and understand this.”

“Just to prove it to you … in the top 20 most violent cities in America … over half are ran by the Department of Justice. Your chief knows this. He comes in and says, you deserve a consent decree. Well, he comes from Newark, New Jersey, where they were under a consent decree. He knows full well the destruction and the damage that they cause,” Yates said.

“In every city that a consent decree exists, crime skyrockets, cops leave, budgets blow up,” Yates added.

Police training and leadership matters

Aside from a lack of leadership and Mayor Frey’s “warrior training” ban, Yates also questioned whether other factors — such as the lack of officers, mandatory overtime, and officers patrolling without partners — played a role in the murder of Officer Mitchell.

Having dealt with Mayor Frey’s misunderstanding of necessary police training in the past, Dr. Yates pointed out what he considered another reality unfolding in Minneapolis: “What Minneapolis deserves is actual leadership and not leaders that can simply pass the buck and blame the DOJ in future years, which is exactly what’s happening.

“Instead of pushing agendas and pointing fingers, we need politicians — we need police leaders — that get back to serving the public and not serving themselves. It all comes down to that,” Yates concluded.


Liz Collin

Liz Collin has been a truth-teller for 20 years as a multi-Emmy-Award-winning reporter and anchor. Liz is a Worthington, Minnesota native who lives in the suburbs with her husband, son and loyal lab.