Lincoln University will become the first historically Black college and university (HBCU) to offer a police academy in an effort to recruit more Black officers.
According to The Kansas City Star, Police Chief Gary Hill proposed the academy three years ago. He will now serve as its director. “Learning about the history of policing in this country is important to understanding why some minorities feel the way that they do about law enforcement,” said Hill.
This will become Missouri’s 20th police academy. They will seek to attract minority law enforcement recruits and train the existing officers on how to improve relations with minority communities.
Hill says Black students have not been eager to have a career in law enforcement. “I have always found it hard to get people of color to come to [an] academy,” he said. He also said that the pool of Black recruits is diminishing, especially after the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black men and women who have been killed at the hands of police officers.
Hill believes that Black Americans do not trust law enforcement. A 2019 Pew Research Center report says Black people believe the criminal justice system treats them less fairly than their white counterparts.
A report from the Star found that Black communities do not call the police because they do not trust them. The absence of trust is a direct correlation to high gun violence.
The recruits will participate in 17 weeks of classes at a 10-cabin camp that is owned by the university. The instructors will come from different parts of the state.
“We want to increase the number of practical hours so that officers are learning how to deescalate and how they might react in a volatile situation — rather than learning it on the street,” Hill said. “I truly believe that has a lot to do with use of force incidents that we are seeing.”
Lincoln’s police academy is slated to open in January and both students and non-students can attend.