The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Justine Damond was put on an accelerated police cadet program that required only seven months of training, a nontraditional route that aims to help those who have a college degree enter law enforcement.
Mohamed Noor, 31, shot Damond, 40, after she called 911 to report a sexual assault behind her home. When she approached the driver’s side of the squad car, Noor fired from the passenger side, across his partner, killing Damond.
The Minnesota Police Department has been under fire since the July 15 shooting. Many have questioned Noor’s experience and training after only graduating in 2015. However, former Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who resigned last week, stood by Noor’s training.
“We have a very robust training and hiring process,” Harteau told reporters at a news conference last Thursday. “This officer completed that training very well, just like every officer. He was very suited to be on the street."
But others believe the fast-track program could leave officers ill prepared handle real-world police scenarios.
“The cadet program is rigorous, no doubt,” James Densley, a criminal justice associate professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, told the Star Tribune, “but it is also an immersive paramilitary experience, taught by practitioner faculty without advanced degrees, and I suspect it leaves students with a limited view of the profession.”
Nate Grove, the head of the State Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (which controls police training and sets objectives) said that the nontraditional routes are no less rigorous in Minnesota than the traditional ones. The Peace Officer Licensing Examination includes 275 questions and takes about two to three hours to complete.
Damond's shooting death has been ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office.