Discrimination is a problem in almost every facet of life in the United States. While every instance of discrimination is wrong, there are situations where discrimination has the potential twist our society into a nightmare. Discrimination by police or other law enforcement professionals can start a vicious cycle that can be virtually impossible to break. It is impossible to understate the importance of having a police force that understands the impact of discrimination and has the tools and training to conduct itself impartially.
Police are forbidden from making arresting and processing decisions based on race, gender, gender expression, religion, sexual orientation and certain other criteria. Several members of the New Jersey State Assembly believe that New Jersey officers would benefit from cultural diversity training. If the initiative passed, country and municipal law departments would have to complete a training course as part of the officers’ in-service training. The courses would cover issues relevant to the racial ethnic and religious groups present within the jurisdictions of each group.
This latest move comes close on the heels of a controversial proposal allowing towns to require new police officers to live in their community for five years. That measure drew the ire of police unions. The cultural diversity training will likely also be viewed by some officers as an attack on their profession, the implication being that officers haven’t already done work to connect with their communities.
No sensible person could argue that there is no tension between police and racial, ethnic, religious and other groups that feel they have been targeted unfairly. It is important for people charged with keeping the peace to have proper training on how to interact with their community in a positive way. Diversity training could help bridge the gap between the public and law enforcement and reduce civil rights violations and unrest.
Source: NJ.com, “N.J. police would have to undergo diversity training under legislation,” by Matt Friedman, 25 March 2015