Case Study #2
How might we increase empathy between law enforcement and the community it serves?
In the Stanislaus County Police Academy, it is traditional for new recruits to be trained on community relations by a veteran police officer. This became of focus of conversation in one Stanislaus cohort that was made up of senior police officers and community leaders with a mixed experience with law enforcement. The design team that emerged was curious if they could shift the relationship between police officers and the communities they served by building relationships prior to any crisis situation.
Together they hosted a dinner for new police trainees and community leaders and invited them to all speak to their history with law enforcement and the coping mechanisms they had developed as a result. The police captain present saw the power of exposing new recruits to fuller story of community members in the early stage of their training. And community members stepped into a greater awareness of the multiple split-second decisions typical of an officer’s day.
This work has evolved to focus on how to humanize the challenges police face — and to train new recruits alongside community leaders, not just fellow officers. Their work included:
• The Stanislaus Sheriff’s Department funded a curriculum design team made up of community members, new cadets and senior law enforcement from the County to redesign how new cadets are interacting with the community they police. Recently, community members redesigned the protocols that guide police when they respond to call from a community member who is mentally ill.
• Last month, this team was asked to present their work to the statewide California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training. The hope is that this curriculum will be fully integrated into the training of police officers across the state.