Professor Carnage: Dave Grossman teaches police officers to think like “warriors.” But is the rise of a militarized mindset turning black citizens into targets?


Early one Friday morning, more than 250 police officers file into a high school auditorium in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Dressed in the uniform of the off-duty cop—polo shirts and khakis accessorized with pistols and handcuffs—the officers are here to attend a seminar called “The Bulletproof Mind: Prevailing in Violent Encounters … and After.” As the cops settle into their seats, a burly National Guard sergeant in camouflage fatigues takes the floor to introduce the man who will lead the seminar: Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a retired Army ranger and former West Point instructor.

A lean and energetic man, Grossman paces back and forth between two oversize pads of paper propped on easels. Equal parts motivational speaker, drill sergeant, and prophet of doom, he jabs the air with a fat permanent marker of the sort favored by graffiti artists. “We. Are. At. War,” he tells the officers, many of them from small towns in Pennsylvania. “And you are the frontline troops in this war. There is no elite unit showing up to save your bacon when the terrorists attack. You are the Delta Force. You are the Green Beret. You are British SAS. Can you accept that? Every single one of you is in the frontline of a live ammo combat patrol every day of your life.”

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