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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, earlier this year, began welcoming Washington, D.C., police officers into the museum as part of a new training program created by the Metropolitan Police Department and the University of the District of Columbia Community College. The program, which teaches officers about African American history and culture in the U.S., and more specifically in Washington, is designed to provide officers with insight into the African American experience in an effort to improve interactions between District residents and officers.
As a component of the training program, which also includes a lecture on black history and a lesson examining police brutality given at other locations, officers participate in two-hour tours of the museum. Tours are given twice a week before the museum opens to the public and are conducted by the program’s tour guides.
“We are honored that the Metropolitan Police Department chose the museum as one of the sites for their program,” said a museum spokesperson. “Like the police department, the museum recognizes the value of exposing cadets, officers and administrators to the museum giving them the opportunity to learn more about the communities they serve.”
The program’s facilitators emphasize the importance of understanding the history of the communities in which officers work, as many are not from the Washington area. Washington Police Chief Peter Newsham said the National Museum of African American History and Culture was chosen for the program because its exhibitions include honest stories of the role policing has played in some of the injustices in history and may help officers to confront ugly moments in the history of policing.
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La Fleur Paysour