Dozens of Bal­ti­more, univer­sity po­lice re­ceive cul­tural train­ing

Baltimore Sun - - AROUND THE REGION - By Kevin Rec­tor krec­tor@balt­ twit­­tor­sun

Dozens of city and cam­pus po­lice of­fi­cers gath­ered at Mor­gan State Univer­sity in North­east Bal­ti­more on Wednes­day for spe­cial train­ing aimed at en­hanc­ing their “cul­tural com­pe­tency” and abil­ity to in­ter­act pos­i­tively with city res­i­dents.

“We care very much about our city and you, and we are in­ter­ested in con­tribut­ing to build­ing bridges,” said Anna McPhat­ter, dean of the univer­sity’s School of So­cial Work, whose fac­ulty mem­bers led the morn­ing sem­i­nar.

About 40 mem­bers of the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment and 25 mem­bers of the Mor­gan State Univer­sity Po­lice and Pub­lic Safety Depart­ment at­tended. A ma­jor theme was the cul­tural dif­fer­ences between gen­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing how baby boomers and mil­len­ni­als re­act dif­fer­ently to au­thor­ity.

“They come with a whole dif­fer­ent mind­set,” said Kevin Daniels, a se­nior pro­fes­sor in the School of So­cial Work.

Mil­len­ni­als of­ten are more en­gaged on so­cial me­dia than in per­son, and can be quick to talk back to au­thor­ity, Daniels said.

Chief Gane­sha Mar­tin, head of the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment’s com­pli­ance divi­sion, which is ne­go­ti­at­ing a pend­ing con­sent de­cree with the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, said many mil­len­nial of­fi­cers have sim­i­lar prob­lems en­gag­ing with res­i­dents, an ob­sta­cle to ef­fec­tive foot pa­trols.

The train­ing also touched on the im­por­tance of rec­og­niz­ing that not all cul­tural dif­fer­ences are im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous — such as the dif­fer­ent lenses through which a black res­i­dent born and raised in Bal­ti­more and a black im­mi­grant from Africa or the Caribbean may see the world.

The pro­gram, pro­vided by the school at the re­quest of Bal­ti­more Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis, rep­re­sented the lat­est ef­fort by the depart­ment to sup­ple­ment its stan­dard po­lice academy cur­ricu­lum with a more nu­anced so­ci­o­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion on the city and the res­i­dents who pop­u­late it.

It fol­lows the in­tro­duc­tion of a sep­a­rate train­ing pro­gram on the his­tory of Bal­ti­more, and comes amid a re­newed fo­cus on “com­mu­nity polic­ing” after the Jus­tice Depart­ment re­leased a scathing re­port this sum­mer out­lin­ing a long his­tory of dis­crim­i­na­tory and un­con­sti­tu­tional polic­ing.

It also comes as Mor­gan of­fi­cials are dis­cussing ways to im­prove se­cu­rity on and around the cam­pus after the stab­bing deaths of two stu­dents near the school this year.

David Wil­son, Mor­gan’s pres­i­dent, said he and his staff “hud­dled” after the un­rest in the city last year to de­ter­mine what re­sources the univer­sity could use to help the city — and the Po­lice Depart­ment — move for­ward. One re­source it fo­cused on was its staff.

Wil­son said it is crit­i­cal that of­fi­cers work “hand in glove with the res­i­dents” to­ward progress. The Mor­gan staff can help en­sure that hap­pens, but only with the co­op­er­a­tion of po­lice, he said.

“Your role is so crit­i­cal in help­ing com­mu­ni­ties to bet­ter deepen the level of trust and re­spect and un­der­stand­ing between them and you, who are there to pro­tect all of us,” Wil­son said.

Through­out much of the sem­i­nar, many of­fi­cers re­mained silent, but oth­ers vol­un­teered their own thoughts — in­clud­ing on the gen­er­a­tional di­vide they see among res­i­dents.

“One of the things I’ve no­ticed is the older gen­er­a­tions have found their niche — they’re the bar­tender, the me­chanic, the teacher, the real es­tate sales­per­son, the road builder. Un­for­tu­nately, the mil­len­ni­als are hav­ing a hard time get­ting to that niche, and it wor­ries me be­cause there is a de­gree of anger, and ac­tu­ally be­cause of that anger there is fear,” said Of­fi­cer Wil­liam O’Donnell, an older white of­fi­cer. “I’m re­ally con­cerned about where we’re go­ing, be­cause if you can’t find jobs that are pro­duc­tive, that pay for their ef­forts, and the money’s not there, then I’m heart­bro­ken for the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Po­lice and univer­sity of­fi­cials hope to turn the train­ing into a na­tional model. El­la­m­ont St. in South­west Bal­ti­more around 3:13 p.m. Wednes­day. He was taken to a hos­pi­tal for treat­ment. On Tues­day night, a 36-year-old man was shot in his hand, el­bow and shoul­der while driv­ing in Cur­tis Bay, po­lice said. Some­one opened fire on the man, po­lice said, while he was driv­ing in the 1600 block of Hazel St. Of­fi­cers were called about 10:45 p.m. to the shoot­ing. The man was hos­pi­tal­ized. Any­one with in­for­ma­tion can call po­lice, 1-866-7LOCKUP.

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