Missouri police officers to be trained on history of policing in minority communities

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police officers in Missouri will now be trained on the history of policing in minority communities in the U.S.

The two-hour course is currently being developed and will become part of officers’ basic training six months after being shared with Missouri’s 20 law enforcement basic training academies.

The state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission voted unanimously to require the training for new recruits.

“I believe providing this training in the history of policing for Missouri officers can help create a better understanding of some of the underlying reasons for conflict and distrust that can exist between law enforcement and minority communities, and can help create better relations going forward,” said Police Officer Standards and Training Commissioner and Lincoln University Police Chief Gary Hill.

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The history of policing in the United States is closely intertwined with race. In the South, early police forces were focused on preserving slavery in the form of slave patrols, according to Gary Potter, crime historian at Eastern Kentucky University.

The relationship with minority communities remains fraught. According to Pew Research, 84% of black adults and 63% of white adults said that, in dealing with police, blacks are generally treated less fairly than whites.

“This is an important issue and a good addition to our training curriculum that I believe will benefit all of us,” said Police Officer Standards and Training Commissioner and Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak. “The more voices and perspectives that we’re exposed to the greater the potential for trust and reconciliation.”

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