Frederick Ryan, Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016
Contact: Captain Richard Flynn, PIO
Email: [email protected]
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Police Participate in Progressive Police Training Program Involving Community Members
ARLINGTON — Chief Frederick Ryan is pleased to report that nearly a dozen members of the Arlington Police Department participated in a progressive training session on the concepts of “Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Value-based Policing.” For the first time in the history of the course, the program was modified to include both police officers and civilians in the same room, learning about a proposed new way for police officers to engage the community.
The training curriculum was developed and taught by the Cambridge Police Department, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Police Training Committee. Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas, Deputy Superintendent Christine Elow and Officer Anthony Bongiorno taught the class, which was hosted by the Bedford Police Department at Middlesex Community College’s Bedford campus on Thursday, Jan. 7.
All of the Arlington Police Department’s command staff and police training officers attended the event. Also in attendance were 2/3 of the Bedford Police Department and nearly 60 elected officials, town department heads, non-profit leaders, clergy and other residents who were invited to take part in the program.
“I saw this event as a unique opportunity for our department to engage with community members and discuss what it means to be a police officer in this day and age,” Chief Ryan said. “It is important for us to continue to educate one another, build relationships, and participate in active dialogue about new, innovative ways for us to do our jobs. This training provided the perfect setting to get that discussion going.”
Core to the training is the belief that police officers should conduct themselves in a manner that is fair, impartial, transparent and consistent. The instructors stressed the importance of “legitimacy” and building public trust, and they showed case studies that looked at what happens when police officers technically followed the letter of the law and lost the trust of their community. The instructors also stressed that police officers must realize their actions, however small, will stay with a person forever and that every individual carries with them different life experiences.
“Legitimacy” in policing is the belief that police officers are trustworthy, honest, and concerned about the well-being of all the people they encounter, and it is measured by the public’s trust in the police and their belief that officers actions are moral and justified. In the modern age, progressive police departments believe that they need to take a solid look at the status quo and ask themselves how their communities view them and their actions.
Cambridge Police created and began teaching this curriculum to police departments across the commonwealth in response to the national backlash following the arrest of Harvard professor Lewis Henry Gates in 2009.
Course instructors cited specific examples of how the Cambridge Police Department has changed the way it does business, including reevaluating how they deescalate or disengage after an interaction with the public and seeking to manage a situation rather than commanding and controlling it. The focus is also on the quality of relationships in the community and increasing community engagement opportunities.
During opening discussions, many of the police officers said they wanted to learn about the community’s view of police and civilians in the audience stated they desired to find out the perspectives of the police officers. Several audience members shared wishes of learning how to have better conversations with children and expressed the need to engage youth by teaching them to trust the police and have an active dialogue.
In addition to the training curriculum, remarks were also given by:
- Alisa Chapman, Director of Compliance and Title IX Coordinator at MCC
- Massachusetts State Representative Kenneth Gordon
- Bedford Selectman Margot Fleishman
- Rev. Christopher Wendell of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- Rev. John Gibbons of First Parish in Bedford
- Dr. James Mabry, President of MCC
For more information or questions, contact the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212.