D. C. police will get schooled on racial sensitivity to avoid future bias

Washington D.C. police officers. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

They say knowing is half the battle – and officers in our nation’s capital will now be putting that theory to the test.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) recently announced that D.C. police officers will now be required to take a course on critical race theory and visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of a new training incentive.

The program is the first of its kind and was developed through a partnership between D.C. police and the University of the District of Columbia Community College.

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“We are committed to accountability,” said Bowser, “to strengthen the bonds of trust between MPD and our residents.”

Even though crime has decreased in the District — with the end of 2017 seeing a 23 percent drop in violent crimes and 17 percent fewer homicides — national concern over racially insensitive and biased officers and their excessive use of force continue to run rampant in Black communities.

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“If you’re going to be a police officer in Washington, you need to understand the history of the city and race is a big part of that,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Officers taking part in the training will go through a day of instruction which includes a three-hour lecture on Black history and a guided visit through the National Museum of African American History and Culture followed by a lesson on U street where officers examine police brutality.

Master Police Officer Curtis Coleman believes taking part in this program will improve interactions between District residents and the officers who serve them.

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“This is 2018, and I’m telling my new cadets and recruits, ‘You have to get out of the squad car, you have to interact with the community,’ ” Coleman said. “Don’t wait until something happens.”

On a similar note, last year Chicago Police Department announced recruits would tour the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Illinois Holocaust Museum as part of their mandatory training as well.