When my client Kathleen Denardi enrolled in the Law Enforcement Academy at St. Petersburg College Allstate Center, she was fulfilling a dream to serve the community as a law enforcement officer. She knew the training would be intense, both physically and intellectually. What she didn’t count on was the physical and emotional abuse she endured.
Part of her training included boxing sessions. Initially, she was paired off with other females. Then the Academy instructor ordered two large men, twice her size, to enter the ring and spar with her. What happened wasn’t training it was assault and physical abuse. As a result of the beating she endured, Kathleen suffered two black eyes, a broken wrist, and multiple bruises and contusions. It was so severe, she had to be hospitalized.
As a former military police officer who has gone through police training exercises, I don’t understand why Kathleen was placed into a situation where she was beaten to the point she couldn’t continue.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) training doesn’t include boxing as part of its regimen. The Academy instructor explained that his program “exceeds FDLE standards”. FDLE is supposed to be the one that sets the standards. Exceeding these standards isn’t always good or prudent. In this case, it may just be criminal. There are guidelines and protocols to be followed in training future police officers. Hitting someone in the face repeatedly is not part of the program, nor should it be. Officers should be trained to defend themselves and restrain or subdue alleged criminals, not beat them to a pulp. Boxing isn’t in any way a defensive training exercise. The goal of boxing is to render the opponent incapable of continuing. Punches to the head are to be expected. Such punches shouldn’t be expected or tolerated in a police training environment.
Police officers are peace officers trained to protect and serve. Training that encourages beatdowns, especially when it involves a smaller person shouldn’t be tolerated. If this is exceeding FDLE expectations, the training academy at St. Petersburg College has a serious problem.