INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indy Public Safety Foundation on Tuesday formally announced the addition of “Interrupting Racism” training as part of the IMPD Training Academy curriculum for the 22nd Recruit Class.
Police officers say the two-day training, conducted last week, marked the police department’s next step in racial and cultural sensitivity training for new officers.
Katherine Cummings, the IMPD training commander, said, “We are looking for people who are young and eager to serve and want to see their community grow and thrive and be better.”
Indy Public Safety Foundation says the anti-racism workshop uses exercises designed to interrupt every day practices that result in racist outcomes. “We try and explain how we continue to uphold a racist system without making anyone feel guilty and we give knowledge as to how it’s happening,” said Jill English, director of Interrupting Racism for Children at Child Advocates. “We give context and studies, and we show videos.”
Dane Nutty, executive director of the Public Safety Foundation, said, “It gives officers and future officers tools in order to have conversations about race.”
The organization Child Advocates created the anti-racism workshop. “We at Child Advocates started it 10 years ago because we saw a disproportionality of African-American children in the child welfare system,” said Cindy Booth, chief executive officer of Child Advocates.
The goal is to fight against racism and create a future where all children can thrive regardless of the color of their skin. English said, “There becomes an implicit bias as to how you see yourself because you’re not reflected at home. I know more recently we’ve become very aware of that when it comes to children with books and materials that are available to them.”
Officers from the 22nd Recruit Class say they are hopeful that this training will help improve relationships between law enforcement and Black and brown communities. “I had people saying little things about me being in law enforcement because I am a Black woman,” said Shayonna Gray, a recruit officer. “I just want the Black community and everyone to feel safe when we see officers because we’re here to help.”
Tomas Hernandez, a recruit officer, said, “We are not Border Patrol and we are here to protect, no matter where you’re from.”
The Public Safety Foundation says it invested $25,000 to make the training available for the 22nd Recruit Class. The foundation hopes to make the training available for more IMPD officers. The foundation is supported by corporate, philanthropic and private donors.