By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
While statistics prove that for years people of color have died at the hands of police at a disproportionate rate than Whites, the resurgence of Black activism and “staying woke” has roused the consciences of revolutionaries and local governments alike demanding police reform, such as in Washington, D.C. where on April 13 Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new program requiring officers to learn more about Black history.
On the steps of the National African American History and Culture Museum, Bowser said, “We are committed to accountability to strengthen the bonds of trust between MPD and our residents,” according to The Washington Post.
The mayor said that while violent crimes have decreased in the District, the negative interactions between Black residents and police officers continue to be a point of contention- a larger issue when considering African Americans make up 47.7 percent of the District according to the 2016 U.S. Census.
Developed through a partnership between the Metropolitan Police Department and the University of the District of Columbia Community College, the program consists of a three-hour lecture on Black history, a tour through the National Museum of African American History and Culture and a session around the U Street corridor.
The mayor and the programs’ officials hope that the education in Black history, particularly in the District, will help D.C. officers have a fuller understanding of the culture and the background behind the relationship between African American residents and policemen. Particularly in the District’s changing demographics, such as the U Street corridor that formerly housed “Black Broadway” as opposed to the many White owned entertainment establishments that currently stand there, the program’s officials hope the lessons will offer some insight to the inner-wirings of African American residents.
“If you’re going to be a police officer in Washington, you need to understand the history of the city, and race is a big part of that,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told The Washington Post.
The Post reported that since January between 60 and 80 officers have been trained each week and that D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, said he hopes to have all 3,800 sworn officers and 660 civilian members of the department trained by the end of the year.