Cambridge Police Continues Its Commitment to Training

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The Cambridge Police Department recently hosted a pair of unique and innovative trainings for its Officers and regional partners. The trauma-informed law enforcement and implicit bias trainings supplemented the Department’s mandated annual in-service trainings and were intended to better equip, broaden the understanding and sharpen the skillsets of its Officers.

The three-day trauma-informed law enforcement training -- the seventh session hosted by the Cambridge Police Department, in conjunction with the City of Cambridge’s Domestic and Gender-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, Transition House, and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), since it originally began offering the training to Officers in 2016 -- provides a framework for understanding trauma in the context of law enforcement, including how trauma affects officers and victims in the community. A number of local and national experts were among the speakers at the multi-disciplinarian training:

  • Nick Stein, Engaged Mindfulness Institute Facilitator
  • Jim Hopper, Ph.D., Independent Consultant, Part-Time Instructor, Harvard Medical School (Nationally recognized instructor on the neurobiology of trauma)
  • Sharon Imperato, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Manager of Clinical Services at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
  • Erin Miller, MPS, MDV, CTSS, CASAC-T, and Manager of the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • Donna Kelly, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prosecutor, Utah Prosecution Council, Office of the Attorney General
  • Justin Boardman, Retired Detective, West Valley City Police Department (Utah)

The main topics discussed were resiliency, mindfulness, understanding the dynamics of trauma, post-trauma experiences, and trauma-informed approaches and systems in law enforcement. Officers from the Cambridge Police Department were joined by members of the MIT Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Cambridge Sexual Assault Response Team, local service providers, and other community organizations. Nearly 175 Cambridge Police Officers have now completed this innovative training since first being introduced three years ago.

The Cambridge Police Department also recently offered two implicit bias training sessions to its Officers and regional partners at Harvard University. Implicit bias is the concept of hidden biases that all individuals carry from a lifetime of experiences with blindspot cover social groups – age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, or nationality. Dr. Mahzarin R. Banaji, a Professor at Harvard University, author of Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People and a pioneer in researching the subject of implicit bias for decades, led the training. Overall, 115 Cambridge Police Officers completed the half-day training. The Officers and staff who participated in the training noted that the training was beneficial to improving police-community relations and that it was valuable for their work.

“I believe these two trainings are absolutely critical for 21st century policing and, in fact, address many of the pillars outlined in the ‘President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing’ report,” said Commissioner Branville G. Bard, Jr. “As an example, the participating officers have a deeper understanding of the negative impact of explicit and implicit bias on police-community relations and are better equipped with enhanced skillsets. With the trauma-informed training, an officer may experience more trauma in the course of an incident or several incidents than an individual may experience over the course of his or her lifetime. While it’s important to understand trauma as it relates to a victim, it’s just as important to help officers understand and manage their own trauma. These trainings addressed these crucial topics in a thoughtful, progressive manner and were led by some of the most impressive subject matter experts we could have asked for.”

The Department is committed to ensuring that all of its Officers attend the trauma-informed training and will be seeking to further invest in additional implicit bias training in the future.

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Page was posted on 11/26/2019 11:24 AM
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