NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark Herring attended a new police training program in Hampton Roads this morning, which is designed to bring policing into the 21st Century.
Herring says the training is about building safe, successful communities while ensuring every citizen is treated fairly and equally.
The idea is to train the trainer. In other words, each of those in the classroom Monday will go back to a department in Hampton Roads and bring what they learned to their fellow officers.
Monday, instructors talked about implicit bias as part of the course on fair and impartial policing. Instructors told officers in attendance that everyone has some biases toward others.
There are ways, however, to handle those biases and still treat people fairly. That can help build trust between officers and the people they serve.
“When the community has that sense of trust with law enforcement, they’re more willing to come forward with information and assist police and to see them as truly a part of the fabric of the community,” Herring says. “That makes our communities safer, it makes our officers safer, and we owe it to them to get them the very best skills that we can.”
Lieutenant Ray Rice of St. Louis County Police Department went through the training and found it so effective, he became a program facilitator.
“There’s no overnight cure for what is going on. It didn’t happen overnight,” Rice said. “Once the police department takes the [implicit bias] training, it’s not all the sudden going to be a cure for whatever social ills that they’re experiencing in the community. It has to become a living, breathing part of the police department in order to change the culture.”
Herring also plans to incorporate the training in academies around the Commonwealth.
Pilot programs in Danville and Martinsville are exploring why young people, especially minorities, are hesitant to join the police force, and how to change that. Lessons learned there will be applied to departments all around Virginia, Herring said.
The training in Newport News is set to continue through Wednesday.