D.C. Police to Participate in African-American Education Course to Improve Policing in Communities

If the blatant racism, prejudice, profiling and discrimination observable in the police force these past few years could be reduced or prevented through brief training and education on black history, then it’s reasonable to suggest that D.C. cops are on the right track.

Washington, D.C. police officers are now required to enroll in a class on ‘critical race theory’ and participate in the training program which also includes a visit to The Museum of African American History and Culture to get a better understanding of the communities that they are to ‘protect and serve.’ It’s not an ill proposition considering the fact that black residents in this city make up 46 percent of the population. It makes sense to educate the police about the communities in which they serve.

Courtesy: city-data.com

The poll of innocent black lives lost annually at the hands of police officers has perhaps finally triggered an initiative towards change and while millions were wondering when ‘black lives matter’ would be regarded as more than just a hashtag to society and to the government, perhaps this spark of change is better late than never and this news, while it pertains to just one area, is somewhat…refreshing.

Since January, over 550 city cops have explored the museum through this new government mandate and by the end of this summer, the department is set to train all of its 3,800 sworn officers and 660 civilian employees. Officers are placed in large groups of about 30 and are given a thorough tour of the entire collection in the Museum. It takes about nine hours to complete which is an interesting duration of time because I sure wish I could get certified or given credit for a thorough understanding on subjects in school by simply attending a nine-hour course. Imagine—we could all be accredited geniuses! (But hey, A+ for attendance.)

Courtesy: Giphy

To imagine that cops are able to get their badges before proving nobility and basic consideration of human rights and human life is a bit scary. It is a bit appalling to notice that they just now deem it fit to do something towards reducing the disproportionate fraction of unarmed people of color who die daily, only to be reduced to a hashtag. One can not help but be torn between feeling utterly appalled by the short course designed to teach cops to be more sensitive and understanding to minorities or feeling optimistic of the mere possibility that this may, in fact, induce a long-desired change. 

In a ceremony announcing the act on April 13, Police Chief Peter Newsham declared that the museum tour encourages officers to think differently about the communities which they police. He described the initiative as “an opportunity to see how police were viewed by people in the community and come face-to-face with the reality that not too long ago, police officers played an active role in the enforcement of many of the discriminatory and racist laws of the time,” according to the Washingtonian.

Clearly, this topic stirs mixed emotions. Nevertheless, brings the hope of a better—in terms of safety and equality—community starting with D.C.