NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) — When leadership at the Oak Pointe Church in Novi agreed to host a training event for police officials next month, they had no idea that one of two guest speakers for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police was so controversial.
"We've never really questioned or looked into the details of the content and that's on us," said Bob Shirock, the church's lead pastor who told 7 Action News that they support police and have hosted police conferences for many years.
Retired Army Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, who teaches "Killology" was on the agenda this time, and with that came calls to the church on Sunday from people who were opposed to any message Grossman was going to deliver to police chiefs and police supervisors from across the state.
"When we actually looked into the speaker and the tone and content, we were completely and instantly uncomfortable with it," Shirock told 7 Action News Tuesday, a day after church leadership decided they could no longer host the event.
And the police chiefs association also decided they would cancel the event that was supposed to focus on PTSD, but it was Grossman's controversial teachings surrounding fatal shootings that has been grabbing attention on social media since Sunday, including his comment on sex after a couple of police-involved shootings that were deadly.
"The best sex I've had in months," said Grossman, referring to what he claims a couple of police officers told him they engaged in after being involved in fatal shootings.
Some in the audience then chuckle when Grossman tells them, "There's not a lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it."
One of Grossman's critics writes on Twitter: "Dave Grossman is a disturbed, unprofessional provocateur, who should NEVER be training Police Officers in 2021."
On his website, Grossman defines killology 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."
"Based upon the complaints that we got, we felt it was prudent to cancel that," said Robert Stevenson, Executive Director for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police who told 7 Action News that next month's training seminar was going to focus on PTSD.
"One of the reasons we felt this information would be important is we had an officer here in Michigan that committed suicide a couple years after being involved in a fatal force incident," said Stevenson. "We did recognize the concerns of the community and within 24 hours of getting our first complaint, we made the decision that we should cancel the training, and that was the most prudent and best course of action to take."
Stevenson said his office received 15 to 20 calls on Sunday from people who were upset about Grossman's planned visit.
"They were calling to complain because their perception of Colonel Grossman was that he was training police officers to kill and not to worry about it or not have any conscious to feel bad about it. Although we've never heard Colonel Grossman's training to harm anybody," Stevenson said.
7 Action News reached out to Grossman for comment, but he's not responded.
The church released this statement late Monday afternoon:
Oak Pointe Church Novi Will Not Host Police Training Event With David Grossman
The leadership of Oak Pointe Church has chosen not to host the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) event on May 26-27, 2021 with speakers Gordon Graham and Lt. Col. David Grossman. Our mission of “making disciples to know Jesus and make Him known” is not in line with one of the speakers in question.
Oak Pointe Church has welcomed municipal organizations to host events and trainings at our Novi location over the years in an effort to be a good community citizen. The fact that we were unaware of the planned speakers and contents of the MACP May 26-27 event is our responsibility. Even though this was not a church event, we are responsible for what we host in our building and therefore endorse.
The main source of our concern is the teaching of David Grossman, director of the Killology Research Group. He has become a controversial figure due to his teaching around the topic of killing. 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”). Because of this statement and other elements of Lt. Col. Grossman’s teachings, we cannot welcome him as a speaker at Oak Pointe Church.
We appreciate everyone who has expressed concerns about the content of this event, so that we could investigate it further and make a decision that better reflects the values of Oak Pointe Church.