Photo by Megan Bean
Mississippi State University and Starkville police are uniting to give officers expanded training on culturally responsive policing strategies.
Workshops scheduled for early August will be facilitated by New York-based WSM Trainers and Consultants with a focus on implicit bias, racial diversity, effective communications programs, and crisis intervention.
The workshops extend officer education above and beyond professional development the departments currently have in place.
MSU Vice President of Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said culturally responsive policing is a long-held expectation for the MSU Police Department, which is part of the university’s Division of Student Affairs.
“Through our annual accreditation, our team of officers is regularly training on issues around diversity and implicit bias. We are pleased to be offering this training, in collaboration with Starkville Police Department, to further our goals of equity and bias-free policing in our community,” Hyatt said.
“We see our police officers not only as law enforcement officers but also as educators. We know some of our students come to campus with concerns about interacting with police, and we want to ensure our students see our police officers as resources and as people who have concern for their well-being,” she added.
Specifically, the upcoming training will include sessions ranging from communicating compassionately to understanding racial diversity as well as unacknowledged prejudices, among other topics. Program facilitators said the instruction includes case studies, role-plays and small group projects.
“This class is intended to doubly ensure that officers understand and have awareness of critical issues. Both Dr. Hyatt and I felt it was vitally important right now because we always want every incident to be handled properly,” said Chief Vance Rice of the MSU Police Department.
Prior to his 2014 appointment at MSU, Rice spent 25 years with the University of Arkansas Police Department. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, he also is on the board of directors of the campus section for the International Chiefs of Police and serves as Southeast regional director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the world’s largest professional association devoted to excellence in campus public safety and law enforcement.
Rice said the MSU Police Department is accredited both at the state level by the Mississippi Training and Certification Board and nationally by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Accreditation requires adherence to high standards of training, among other criteria.
All officers receive annual skill development on topics such as bias in policing, reporting uses of force, written use of force reports and administrative review, racial profiling, cultural diversity, community policing, and diversity awareness.
Rice said the MSU Police Department works to provide the highest quality of law enforcement services to students, faculty, staff, and visitors and emphasizes education, environment, and enforcement as instruments to positively influence student development, healthy lifestyles, and safety within the community.