Easing the deep and long-held mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color has no easy fix. But in Newark, N.J., police have embarked on an experiment that they hope will calm tensions by immersing both cops and residents in uncomfortable truths about slavery and Jim Crow, coupled with lessons on epigenetics and trauma.
As of April, the training — believed to be the first of its kind in the nation — has included 117 officers and 163 members of the public, who sit at cafeteria-style tables to share tales of personal trauma. The lessons go on to include an animated film about slavery, a debate about whether a police badge symbolizes oppression, lectures about various forms of trauma, and talks about why police tend to avoid talking about their struggles with stress and mental health.
It “helped me realize how much hate, how much trauma, so many feelings, so many different variables that we come into contact with every single day, how they affect people, how they affect me as an officer.”
“The goal is to work in a collaborative manner so we all get to the same goal. Everybody wants better policing.”