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Study Reveals Crisis in New Recruit Police Training Across America

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The report contended that, far too often, police recruits are trained as warriors, not as guardians and partners intended for civil communities. To effect change, new officers should receive new and adequate instruction sensitive to the communities they serve, researchers wrote. “The current state of recruit training demands that we rethink – and remake – the system for how new police officers is trained,” the researchers argued.

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Researchers concluded the report by noting that American policing needs to re-imagine and retool recruit training.
Researchers concluded the report by noting that American policing needs to re-imagine and retool recruit training.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

A comprehensive new report asserted that American authorities have traditionally trained police officers on the cheap, noting that more than 71% of agencies devote less than 5% of their total budget to recruit training.

Issued by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the report found that nearly half of the agencies responding to the survey agreed that spending on recruit training had increased over the past five years.

However, that was before police budgets faced the dual challenges of cuts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and calls to “defund” the police.

The 84-page exposition noted that investments in training could be stalled or reduced at the very time they need to increase to bring about changes required in American policing.

Researchers found that in many jurisdictions, “the goal seems to be moving as many recruits as possible through academy training as fast as possible and at the lowest possible cost.”

They argued that this approach had been driven partly by the desire to quickly get more officers on the street – a challenge that became particularly acute as officer hirings declined and retirements and resignations increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as homicides and other violent crimes surged.

“Besides recruiting and hiring, there is perhaps no activity that is more crucial to the success of police departments and sheriffs’ offices than how they train recruits,” researchers wrote.

“Recruit training is where new officers acquire the basic knowledge and skills to do their jobs. It’s where they learn the right way to do things and have an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, without the serious consequences of making those mistakes in the field.”

They continued:

“It is where new officers acquire the foundation of technical know-how that will stay with them throughout their careers. But recruit training is about more than just technical instruction.

“Recruit training is where prospective officers are introduced to the concept of public safety and public service. The training academy is where police agencies can articulate their philosophy and vision and begin to instill their core values.

“Finally, recruit training is where agencies build and reinforce their culture through the next group of frontline employees.”

While policing has changed in many respects throughout the years, officers struggle with challenges on several fronts, including dealing with individuals in crisis.

The report contended that, far too often, police recruits are trained as warriors, not as guardians and partners intended for civil communities.

To effect change, new officers should receive new and adequate instruction sensitive to the communities they serve, researchers wrote.

“The current state of recruit training demands that we rethink – and remake – the system for how new police officers is trained,” the researchers argued.

“We need national consensus and national standards on what the training contains, how it is delivered, and by whom.

“This report may present a grim picture of the current state of recruit training, but it also puts forth a series of principles that can help guide the transformation of training to meet the challenges of policing for today and tomorrow.”

Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the PERF, said one could ascertain much about a police training academy from the moment an individual walks in the door and encounter a group of recruits.

“If the recruits immediately back up against the nearest wall, look straight ahead, and bark out in unison, ‘Good morning, ma’am!” or “Good afternoon, sir!” you pretty much know the culture and operating philosophy of that academy,” Wexler stated.

“If, on the other hand, the recruits pause, look you in the eye, and offer a more conversational, “Good morning, sir” or “How are you today, ma’am,” that tells you something else.

“Academies have traditionally followed a paramilitary, boot camp-like model that emphasizes discipline, deportment, following orders, and a strict hierarchy where recruits are often on the lowest rung.

Wexler continued:

“Discipline and following the chain of command are certainly important and necessary aspects of police training and operations. But when those elements become so pervasive that they overshadow almost everything else, it can undermine the academy’s mission, which is to prepare new police officers to serve and protect their communities with compassion and humanity.”

Researchers concluded the report by noting that American policing needs to re-imagine and retool recruit training.

They recommended that officials rethink how academies are operated and staffed, what the recruit curriculum contains, and how the training is delivered and by whom.

They also suggested authorities rethink how to use reality-based scenario training more broadly and effectively and how recruit training integrates with field training once recruits leave the academy.

“Re-imagining policing begins with tackling how police officers are taught. This report is a blueprint for fundamentally rethinking the current way we train new police officers – for dismantling the existing model and building a new approach,” Wexler asserted.

“The goals are ambitious and far-reaching. But we hope that if police agencies can attract those who possess the ‘right stuff,’ we can provide them with the kind of training that will take us into the future guided by a new way of thinking.”

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Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

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By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

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Activism

16th Annual MLK Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

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“…Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

The event was hosted by Urban Tilth and the City of Richmond. Event partners were Groundwork Richmond, Rich City Rides, Moving Forward, Hope Worldwide, The Watershed Project, Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, Building Blocks for Kids, City of Richmond, Cal Cameron Institute, Friends of the Richmond Greenway; and Pogo Park.

The celebration made possible with the support of the Hellman Family Foundation, City of Richmond, and hundreds of individual donors.

The day’s schedule included volunteer projects along the Richmond Greenway and a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and community celebration at Unity Park.

Among the community service projects were opportunities to take part in projects to transform and beautify the Richmond Greenway Trail, like tending to the Greenway Gardens, trash pickup, and planting native plant and trees.

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Activism

Sheng Thao Sworn in as New Mayor of Oakland, Pledges New Direction for the City

Mayor Thao provided a few minutes on the program to introduce to the community Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, the newly appointed deputy mayor, who has served as vice president of external affairs and dean of the school of education at Holy Names University, a leader of the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) and a member of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.

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Mayor Sheng Thao, sworn in as the 51st Mayor of Oakland, is flanked by her son Ben Ventura and her father “Richard” Nou My Thao at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Jan. 9, 2023. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.
Mayor Sheng Thao, sworn in as the 51st Mayor of Oakland, is flanked by her son Ben Ventura and her father “Richard” Nou My Thao at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Jan. 9, 2023. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.

Mayor Thao appoints HNU’s Dr. Kimberly Mayfield as deputy mayor

By Ken Epstein

Sheng Thao, a daughter of Hmong refugees who overcame homelessness and domestic abuse to attend university and build a life for herself and her family in Oakland, received the official oath of office Monday afternoon as the new mayor of the City of Oakland.

Sworn in at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Oakland by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, she stood on stage surrounded by friends, family, and staff members. She was flanked by her son Ben Ventura, who performed a musical piece on the cello, and her father “Richard” Nou My Thao.

The mayor called on Oaklanders to join with her to create a more humane, inclusive, and just city. She spoke about her commitment as a progressive to significantly improve the quality of life for residents, making the city safer and cleaner, building 30,000 units of truly affordable housing, fostering jobs, promoting economic development, supporting small businesses and providing solutions to homelessness that recognize the dignity of the unsheltered.

“I know what we can do together, Oakland,” she said. “Our city’s’ best days are still to come. The Oakland that we all know is possible and within our reach.”

Newly appointed Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield (left) with Mayor Sheng Thao. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.

Newly appointed Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield (left) with Mayor Sheng Thao. Photo courtesy of Alain McLaughlin Photography.

Mayor Thao provided a few minutes on the program to introduce to the community Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, the newly appointed deputy mayor, who has served as vice president of external affairs and dean of the school of education at Holy Names University, a leader of the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) and a member of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.

In her remarks, the mayor focused on the city’s long fight to become more inclusive and equitable.

“We believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, not just a few, not just the wealthy, not just the well-connected,” she said.

“Sometimes, we take our shared progressive values for granted, our advances toward justice and equality,” said Mayor Thao.

She reminded people that “a…century ago, our city was dominated by members of the Ku Klux Klan (where) Klan members burned crosses in our hills and marched through our streets. As recently as the1970s, freeways were made possible by tearing down thriving Black, Latino, and Asian communities,” she continued.

“We recognize what we have overcome together to remember what is worth fighting for every day…(and) to take stock of how far we still have to go.”

Promising a “comprehensive” approach to public safety to make all neighborhoods in the city safer, she said she would bolster anti-crime programs like Ceasefire and “we will fill (police) vacancies with home-grown police officers who know our community, who look like us.”

At the same time, she said, the city must increase opportunities for young people, reinvigorating the summer jobs program (for youth) and enhance the school-to-work pipeline so young people can gain experience and job skills.

She said she would beef up the many city departments that are currently operating on skeleton staffing, promising to fill the staffing vacancies that “plague our city.”

Mayor Thao said she herself is a renter, and that she “will fiercely protect Oakland renters. If you are a renter in Oakland, you’ve got a mayor who’s got your back.”

Speaking about the Oakland A’s proposed waterfront real estate development promoted by former Mayor Libby Schaaf, Mayor Thao said the city will continue negotiations to keep the team “rooted in Oakland.”

“Working closely with the A’s, I’m hopeful we can reach a good deal, (based) on our Oakland values,” she said.

The former mayor’s plan for building the proposed waterfront real estate development at the Port of Oakland was dealt a major setback this week when Oakland failed to secure more than $180 million in federal funds to help pay for infrastructure development for the project.

Speaking of the importance of the appointment of Mayfield as deputy mayor, the Mayor’s Office explained her role in the new administration:

“Mayor Thao was thrilled Kimberly Mayfield agreed to join her team because of her tremendous and longstanding leadership in Oakland. In recognition of her vast experience, it was decided that the best role for her would be as deputy mayor where she will be an instrumental part of the leadership of both the Office and Oakland.”

In her introduction at the Paramount Theatre, Mayfield said, “Today is not about political agendas…It’s about the power of the people…it’s a recognition of the rejection of the status quo. This new chapter begins with a mayor that understands how to build a culture that works for everyone. Thank you, Mayor Thao for the opportunity to serve.”

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