Criminologists say country in ‘crisis’ when it comes to law enforcement, training

We are in a crisis when it comes to training police officers, according to criminologists. They point to three cases -- the murder of George Floyd, the mass shooting in Uvalde and now the killing of Tyre Nichols.

“I’m going to have to go home and explain to my nine almost 10-year-old son how this happened,” Kimberly Allen said.

Allen is with 904Ward, a group with a vision to end racism. She says even though the officers charged with Tyre Nichols death are black, the problem is bigger than race.

“There is a division that is created between black officers and the community, but I think by and large we want to be protected and served too,” Allen said. “It’s not just up to Black cops to do that, it’s anybody who wears a uniform and a badge.”

Allen says there is a system in policing that allows this behavior and it doesn’t go away because of their race.

According to the executive director for the Police Executive Research Forum or PERF, “’s police officers are not universally being prepared for the challenges they face in providing police services in increasingly diverse and demanding communities.”

Alex Del Carmen is a criminologist, who says the country is in a crisis when it comes to law enforcement personnel. “Just because they’ve gone through training, it doesn’t mean that they actually get it.”

“We have a handful of police officers who should have never been recruited, should have never been hired.” When asked how they are slipping through the cracks -- Del Carmen said, “A lot of police officers have left. And so now police departments are not only increasing their salary, but also making it really attractive and in some cases, bending the rules to bring people in that are simply not qualified.”

PERF reports that “while there are pockets of innovation in recruit training, training as a whole has not kept pace with the dynamic changes taking place in policing.”

Examples include the death of George Floyd and the mass shooting in Uvalde where police response was heavily criticized.

“We often say in the law enforcement culture, it’s a training issue, send them back to training,” Del Carmen said. “Unless you have the ability to be able to regard the training and be able to provide oversight on the training and be able to hold officers accountable, the training by itself is going to be meaningless.”

Allen says she doesn’t think the officers saw humanity in Nichols.

She expects police to learn from this situation and actually make a change. “The rhetoric, the language, the policies...they don’t match. And somebody’s child is going to die because of it.”

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