The Campus Police Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center held a training exercise Monday to address and reflect on the current climate for law enforcement in America.
The training objective was to enhance awareness for cultural diversity, sensitivity toward the concerns of the community, and to see through the lens of community members, the current public perception of the conduct and professionalism of police.
“We are currently in challenging times as it relates to police and community relations,” said Campus Police Chief Anthony Berryhill, who led the exercise in the Student-Alumni Center. “It is because of this, that our officers periodically need to be made aware that they may need to exercise extraordinary measures of patience, compassion, and restraint during these extraordinary times.”
Campus Police team members participated in four scenarios that were depictions of actual past experiences that occurred during traffic stops. Each scenario had a diverse gender and racial makeup. Issues such as racism, gender bias, and Black Lives Matter were discussed. Civilians also volunteered to demonstrate what happens during citizen encounters with law enforcement personnel.
“Role-playing allowed participants to witness and feel the carefully selected scenarios unfold before their eyes,” Chief Berryhill said. “It also gave me the opportunity see how the officers respond to certain situations, what is working, and what additional things need to be provided for officers to be able to provide sufficient services and respond appropriately with all police and citizen contact.”
Chief Berryhill said feedback from those in attendance has been positive. “Officers openly stated they benefited from the training and how it was needed,” he said. “At the end of the day, my overall objective is to reach as many as I possibly can in a unique and positive way to enhance their abilities during these not-so-pleasant times for the law enforcement profession. We all remain committed to the UTHSC community, this Medical District, and our chosen profession.”