Among the challenges faced by Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams is training his officers to view themselves as guardians of the community, rather than warriors, reports the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “This has been embedded in law enforcement for my entire career – so more than 25 years,” Williams said yesterday. “Our officers have been trained to survive, to be prepared, to go out in our neighborhoods as if they are in the military. We want our officers to be safe and vigilant and able to protect our community and themselves. But we have changed that philosophy from being a warrior … to being a guardian.”
Williams said officers’ training focuses on community engagement, professionalism and respect for the people they serve. Front line officers have completed a four-hour online training program explaining the tenets and practice of community policing, a first step in getting officers to engage more with citizens and restore public trust. Officers will undergo extensive training in cultural sensitivity, crisis intervention and interacting with youth. Williams spoke at a news conference called by Mayor Frank Jackson to update the city’s progress in implementing the consent decree that city and U.S. Department of Justice officials announced last month to address use of excessive force and other deficiencies in the police department.