Photo and story by Karly Cordell / MTSU Sidelines
MTSU Police officers took part in a “Just and Fair Policing” training course at MTSU on Tuesday with the goal to build trust and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the community. The training was led by MTSU Police Sgt. Jason Hurley, who started the training by asking the other MTSU officers a set of questions.
“How many of you have had a citizen from our community walk up to you and thank you for your service?” Hurley asked.
The majority of the officers raised their hands.
“Now, how many of you have approached a citizen and thanked them for letting you serve them?” Hurley replied.
The room fell silent.
Just and Fair Policing is a new mandatory training course for law enforcement in the state of Tennessee. The program was initiated by Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. After requests by citizens of Tennessee regarding relationships between the police and the community, Haslam requested the development of the training course. The course was then approved and developed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.
“This is a mandatory four-hour training course among several other courses that we are required to have,” Hurley said. “The trainings come out to a total of 40 hours of in-service (police trainings) each year.”
The class revolved around the statement, “I am your neighbor,” which implies that community members want to be viewed and treated with the same respect that law enforcement is expected to be treated with.
In the training, videos of both good and bad altercations between law enforcement and civilians were shown. Open-ended discussions were held to discuss the positives and negatives that occurred, as well as how the situation could have been handled better.
In the light of recent events and viral internet videos portraying some law enforcement members in a bad light, Hurley looks forward to seeing a positive improvement with the campus police and students.
“After this class, I’m hoping that the MTSU Police Department can look at ourselves to see if there is anything we need to improve on,” Hurley said. “I want to see us continue to move forward and find new ways to build trust and shorten the gaps between us and the community. We have to be leaders in our profession.”
As of 2018, all officers in the state of Tennessee have to fall under post-training required by the commission, who are those who certify officers and law enforcement.
“A lot of the topics we cover are really hard to talk about,” Hurley stated. “I think it’s important for us to be open with each other on exactly what we feel like the problems are and how can we go about fixing them.”
Hurley hopes that this positive training will help citizens look at police officers in a better light.
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