AMHERST, Mass. - The Springfield Police Department has contracted with the Training and Development Unit of the Division of Human Resources at the University of Massachusetts to provide 43 weeks of diversity training to officers and command staff at the city’s police training academy on Roosevelt Avenue.
Springfield police chief Paula Meara said: "I want to provide all members of the department with the tools necessary to lead us toward successful community policing in a multicultural city." She added: "I see this in-service training as part of a long-term partnership with the University’s training and development unit."
Patricia Crutchfield, assistant manager for organizational development at UMass, is facilitator for the training, which began late last month for command staff. Training sessions will occur weekly beginning Feb.12 for supervisory personnel and in April for front-line officers. Each session will be limited to 15 people at a time. About 450 members of the department will participate.
As for the University’s role in the training effort, Crutchfield says: "This is a wonderful opportunity for us as a training and development unit to connect in a professional way with a police department whose chief and training officers are so committed to our efforts."
Crutchfield says the objective of the training is to increase awareness of diversity-related issues and to tie that awareness to the skills and competencies necessary for effective community policing. "These are skills you need to be an effective law enforcement professional no matter where you are in the organization. They have an impact on your effectiveness as an officer or a manager," she says.
Working closely with Meara, as well as three training academy officers - Sgt. Dave McGibbon and patrolmen Van Johnson and Mike Carney - Crutchfield has developed a curriculum for the training that is tailored to each group and explores definitions of diversity, stereotypes, and prejudice, as well as how to effectively change patterns of thinking and behavior.
"This is a strong beginning for systemic change," says Crutchfield, "to help people learn how to address these issues in a positive and more sensitive way."
Ultimately, says Crutchfield, it’s hoped that diversity education will be integrated into the academy’s ongoing training program, and to that end, Crutchfield is assisting McGibbon, Johnson, and Carney cultivate their own skills as diversity trainers. "My goal is to not only develop a training program," she says, "but to help the department gain the resources and capacity to cover these issues as part of in-service training."
"I’m excited about the future of the police department and our relationship with the community," says McGibbon. "It’s of great value to us to be able to draw upon the University’s expertise in the area of diversity training. We’re certain our partnership will benefit the city’s community policing efforts."