Law Enforcement Officers from Four States Gather at UTHSC for Innovative Training in Community Policing

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UTHSC Campus Police and the Memphis Police Department hosted officers from four states on campus this week for a training session on community policing. MPD Officer Willard Tate, above, talks to the group. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

Approximately 60 police officers from jurisdictions in Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, and Tennessee were at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center this week for training in community policing, a strategy that focuses on building stronger relationships with the communities and institutions served as a way for law enforcement to become more efficient and eliminate risks.

The train-the-trainer course was provided by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation, an organization dedicated to improving public safety through training of law enforcement personnel in new methods and strategies.

UTHSC Campus Police partnered with the Memphis Police Department to host the training. “This is an effort to maintain collaboration between the Memphis Police Department and UTHSC police,” Campus Police Chief Anthony Berryhill said. “It strengthens our working relationship.” Officers from both organizations were in attendance.

Captain Dave Squires with the City of Virginia Beach Police Department was one of the leaders for the three-days of instruction. He explained the program emphasizes a transformational shift in policing organizations.

“Traditional policing is a model of policing that focuses on compliance to procedures, rapid response to calls for service, and the capacity to address crisis,” he said. “While we need to maintain as police professionals the ability to rapidly respond and address crisis, we’ve proven there are many challenges to the profession we can’t arrest our way out of — persistent poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, the challenges of domestic violence, persistent violence. More police officers and more police cars are not solving the problem in our communities. In fact, they are increasing the rate and severity of conflict.”

The community policing training offers a different approach, focusing on building trust, institutional collaboration, and citizen satisfaction as the means to produce safer outcomes. “While we have to remain highly proficient in the services we provide because sometimes lives are on the line, in our daily work we also have to become more proficient in reducing systemic risk and that’s what this program is really fundamentally about,” he said.

“We’re always constrained by resources, but these are better methods to really highlight the importance of building police legitimacy focusing on trust.”

Chief Berryhill said the sessions are an example of continued collaboration between Campus Police and MPD to provide the highest-quality training for officers locally and elsewhere.