The police department in Washington DC has added a nearly 10-hour training program that includes a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture so that officers can learn about the historical interactions between law enforcement and minority communities.
Crime is down in the city, but negative interactions between police and communities of color remain a concern, Mayor Muriel Bowser said. And this initiative is meant to address issues of bias and use of force that police departments around the country are dealing with.
The program began in January, and the department plans to train all of its 3,800 sworn officers and 660 civilian members by the end of summer.
“We are excited that with [Police] Chief [Peter] Newsham’s leadership, more people in our city, specially police officers, will understand the African American experience in the city, and how it affects the work that they do today,” the mayor said in a news conference held at the museum last week.
Confronting the uglier moments
Police Chief Newsham said the museum trip will allow officers to confront some of the uglier moments in police-minority interaction in the nation’s history.
“The museum includes very honest, and poignant stories of the role that policing played in some of the historical injustices in our country,” he said.
“I think there are some that would like to ignore that troubling history of law enforcement in our country, but we believe it’s critically important that it remains a part of our education and understanding. And most importantly, it’s something we can learn from.”
The effort to educate officers on minorities and their history has grown throughout the nation as Philadelphia and many policing agencies and academies in California also require similar training.
Among them is Chicago.
“In addition to the Chicago holocaust museum, police recruits now spend a full day at the DuSable Museum of African American Culture to learn about cultural diversity and African American History,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN.