Chicago police officers in training study paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago to sharpen their observational skills when they respond to shootings, robberies, or traffic crashes, says the Chicago Tribune. Sgt. Diane Shaw, who works with the recruits at the Chicago police academy, said the exercise helps officers try to see all aspects of a potentially dangerous situation instead of relying on their tunnel vision — limiting their focus to just what’s in front of them. It also teaches officers to think creatively and establish trust with their partner, she said.
New York City police officers have gone through similar training for more than six years to help in their crime-fighting. An Art Institute staffer led recruits yeterday from painting to painting, mostly artwork from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The recruits gazed quizzically and intently at the paintings as they took turns saying what they saw in detail — what was the theme of a painting or a prominent feature? Eventually, the staffer would explain what the artist meant by the work. One recruit, Brent Antesberger, he sees parallels between the artworks and police work. Just like with paintings, he said, “In a crime scene, you have a bunch of people. You’re going to look at their faces, and you’re able to maybe see their emotions. And their emotions then in turn might help you understand what role they play. Are they a witness? Are they a perpetrator? Are they a victim?”