Tucson police aim to bridge the gap between race and policing

New officer recruits will receive cultural awareness as part of their academy training

TPD initiative

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Aiming to bridge the gap between race and policing, the Tucson Police Department is now training its officers how to react better with the community.

In a time where violence has taken over across the country, Black educators and officers are taking a major step forward to bring our communities together.

“I am confident, after today more than ever that they will treat every citizen every person as a human being, regardless of race and color,” educator, Shermaine Fort said.

Cultural competence will now be part of the training for new officer recruits.

"Our time with them was wonderful, it was very receptive. We had the opportunity to talk about some race issues,″ said Fort.

Fort is an educator in our community. Rather than having officers educate officers about racial injustice, the department asked a group of African American educators to lead the training.

“Our goal is equity, education, and transformation,” she added.

Both TPD and educators of color in our community believe this initiative will help bridge the historical gap between police officers and the community of color.

“The officers had a chance to speak to community members and engage in conversations that would be hostile outside of the training environment. It really brings to light as to understanding and respecting culture,” said Antwoine Robinson.

Robinson said he walks on a fine line being a black police officer during this time but hopes the community responds well to the initiative.

“It comes down to a lot of perception. What is factual and what is perception,” he said.

This class is only part one of two phases.

“We’re going to take them out of the academy and were going to let these folks loose to introduce them to the different cultures here in town.," said Academy Assistant Chief, Eric Kazmierczak.

For now educators will focus on training with TPD, but said they will soon start working with other agencies across the county.

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