Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police cancels training over controversial speaker

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Novi — The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police has canceled a two-day training session and an Oakland County church where the event was to be held is apologizing after controversy emerged about the teachings of one of the scheduled trainers.

The words of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, one of the scheduled speakers at the event, sparked the controversy. In one video, Grossman describes sex at home, "after the bad guy's down," as one of the "perks" of a law enforcement job.

Grossman is director of the Killology Research Group, which he defines on his website as "the scholarly study of the destructive act, just as sexology is the scholarly study of the procreative act.

"In particular, killology focuses on the reactions of healthy people in killing circumstances (such as police and military in combat) and the factors that enable and restrain killing in these situations." 

Robert Stevenson

Robert Stevenson, executive director of the association, said Tuesday the first day of training for police supervisors was going to focus on liability issues police departments face.

"It's about as vanilla as you can possibly get," Stevenson said. 

"He's one of the recognized experts in the country on the psychological effects of shootings," Stevenson said of Grossman.

Instead, the session became about Grossman. Stevenson viewed a video by him on Tuesday. 

"I've been on the road for 18 years," Grossman says in the video. "People know me. They trust me."

He then depicts two scenarios.

One is a "knock-down, drag-out fight" that ends with an arrest.

In scenario two, "Gun fight, bad guy's down, I'm alive. Finally get home at the end of the incident and, they all say: 'Best sex I've had in months,'" Grossman said, referring to the officers in his training sessions.

"Both partners are very invested in some intense sex," Grossman said. "There are not a lot of perks that come with this job. When you find one, relax and enjoy it."

Grossman did not respond to a request for comment.

Stevenson said he had not initially seen the remarks. After watching, he said: "It shows the wisdom of canceling. I could see why people are upset.

"I don't see, as long as he's controversial, we'll see him back in the state of Michigan. If he was the only person on Earth who could speak on the topic, we might be having a different discussion."

Stevenson said the purpose of the session was to help supervisors spot post-traumatic stress disorder and help officers involved in use-of-force incidents. 

"It was clear many of the people didn't know what Colonel Grossman does," Stevenson said. "There was a misperception he was brought in to teach officers how to kill people."

The Oak Pointe Church in Novi, which cited Grossman in its cancellation as host, said it hosts "municipal organizations" as part of its efforts to be a good neighbor, but could not do so in this case.

"Our mission of 'making disciples to know Jesus and make Him known' is not in line with one of the speakers in question," said a statement from the church. 

"In one of his on-line seminars he states 'Any natural or learned resistance to killing, any sense of the sanctity of human life, any human emotions, any remorse or compassion at the moment of truth can all be overcome and overwhelmed with training' (Unit 2, from “On Combat”)," the church said in its statement. "Because of this statement and other elements of Lt. Col. Grossman’s teachings, we cannot welcome him as a speaker at Oak Pointe Church."

Stevenson said there were other willing hosts, but the training session was scrapped. The association received 15 to 20 calls and about as many emails in the last two days over Grossman's selection, Stevenson said.

Stevenson stressed the toll a shooting can have on an officer.

In December, Dearborn police officer Chris Hampton, 33, died by suicide while on duty. Hampton's death came five years after he killed Kevin Matthews, 35, while on duty. Stevenson cited the case.

Matthews was accused of stealing an energy drink and was shot nine times. The Dearborn Police Department settled with Matthews' family for $1.25 million in March. 

"Taking somebody's life has health and mental health implications," Stevenson said.