Law Enforcement Group Addresses Current Events at Training Conference
In light of recent events between police and the community, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives modified the focus of its 40th Anniversary Training Conference, taking place this week in Washington, DC.
High-profile shootings in Dallas; Baton Rouge, La.; and Falcon Heights, Minn. over the past few weeks have ignited relations between cops and the communities they serve. Because of this, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives shifted the focus of its 40th Anniversary Training Conference, taking place this week in Washington, DC, to reflect current events.
“We have to ‘step up’ collectively—law enforcement and the community—to bridge this ever-expanding gulf,” said NOBLE Past-President Gregory A. Thomas in a statement.
To that end, four events were added to the conference, which according to the press release, “particularly highlight the organization’s long-term commitment to the administration of equitable justice in every community across America.”
One of those events was a town hall, which NOBLE hosted July 19, in order to continue the conversation between law enforcement officials and the community. Another was a memorial service and march held July 20 at Howard University to both honor fallen police officers nationwide and to illustrate their commitment to serving the community.
NOBLE’s President Perry Tarrant, who also serves as the assistant chief of police for the Seattle Police Department, said that these conversations and training sessions will extend beyond this conference.
He added that crime in black communities is an issue that NOBLE was discussing 40 years ago. And while the group is still discussing the issue today, the times have changed. In an age of smartphones and social media, “people want to know, and they want to know quickly,” Tarrant said about any incident that occurs between police officers and citizens. “We’re talking in terms of the speed of transparency.”
Tarrant said NOBLE is also making efforts to instruct members on community engagement. “We want to actually have constructive conversations with the community before an incident or before a crisis occurs,” he said.
In addition, he said that some community outreach and public awareness is in order. “We want to manage expectations,” Tarrant said. “So people know that they can expect from police—so they know why we do what we do. So we can demystify to a certain extent what police procedure is, and why cops do what they do.”
Forty years ago, the first NOBLE conference had relatively few attendees, but this week’s 1,500 plus highlights members’ thirst for finding solutions “to close the gap” between the community and the police, Tarrant said.
“The challenge is that people tend to not want to come to the table when they’re feeling hurt,” he said. “The cops and the community are feeling hurt. But you don’t solve hurt with more violence.”