According to a report published by Mapping Police Violence, 1,123 died at the hands of the police in 2022. That number forces residents of New York to ask themselves several hard questions, including the viability of changing the way police officers receive training. Is there a way to train police officers to turn away from violence?
As things currently stand, the United States offers no uniform training model for police departments across the nation. Based on national averages, officers receive around three months of training before they begin work.
When compared to other 100 other countries, The Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform (ICJTC) reports that the US requires the lowest number of training hours before an officer starts working. States often review their budgets before determining how much to invest in police training, which leads to cost-cutting measures. With such short training windows, self-defense and violence become the primary teaching points.
A large portion of police officer training in the United States focuses on firearm use. This is unsurprising as the US reportedly has 120.5 firearms per 100 citizens. With officer safety in mind, officers carry at least one semiautomatic pistol.
Andrew Hirschfield, a sociologist from Rutgers University, reports that police officer training in the US “heavily emphasizes the use of force.” With officers facing danger every day, this makes sense on the surface. However, it creates potential issues concerning the civil rights of American citizens.
In 2015, President Barack Obama established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This task force recommended changing how officers receive training, focusing on civil rights and safety for all. They also suggested making training open for public viewing while offering training in empathy and mindfulness.
Civil rights are at the heart of the American way of life. There are ways to better equip officers to protect those rights going forward.
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