Howard University’s Innovative ‘Policing-Inside Out’ Course Marks First Year
WASHINGTON (January 10, 2017) – Howard University’s Department of Sociology and Criminology joined leaders from police departments in Baltimore and across the nation to bridge the divide between law enforcement and citizens of color through the inaugural “Policing Inside-Out” course.
“Policing Inside-Out: Building Trust through Transformative Education” was founded and taught by Bahiyyah Muhammad, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology in partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s (IACP) newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations (ICPR). Howard University students and Baltimore Police Department officers participated in a closing ceremony on Dec. 6.
“Both officers and students were transformed in dynamic ways which shows that bridging the divide between law enforcement and citizens of color is possible,” Dr. Muhammad said. “Policing Inside brings hope to a transitioning world where trust and teamwork will be needed to advance and continue to move forward.”
The innovative course provides an opportunity for participants to experience transformative education and re-examine what they have come to know about law enforcement and social justice issues, while gaining a deeper understanding of community-police relations in the twenty-first century.
“Baltimore – like many police departments across the country - recognizes crime numbers and stats only tell part of the story,” said Darryl De Sousa, deputy police commissioner, Baltimore Police Department and IACP fellow. “Strong community-police relationships are essential to crime reduction. Providing our officers with unique training experiences like this class helps to bridge the gap and lay the foundation for trusting relationships.”
“The IACP is thrilled to have been able to partner with Howard University on the first Policing Inside-Out class,” said Don De Lucca, IACP president and police chief in Doral, Florida. “Partnering with a renowned historically black university to mix students and officers to discuss criminal and social justice issues has been a rewarding, transformative, and positive experience for the participants.”
Dr. Muhammad said the development of the course stemmed from the emotional demands of Howard University students following nationwide unrest, concerning law enforcement’s deteriorating relationship to communities of color, including protests in Baltimore last year. In the fall of 2015, the first session between federal law enforcement officers and students, which eventually became “Policing Inside Out,” occurred during Alternative Spring Break-West Virginia.
“There were lines of students waiting outside of my office wanting to talk about what the world was seeing on the news regarding Black citizens and law enforcement,” Dr. Muhammad said. “Students were hurting and looking for safe places to have those heartfelt conversations about all they were seeing and hearing. Many of those intimate office conversation and advising sessions turned into the framework for this course.”
The focus of the “Policing Inside-Out Class” model is to create a global process for building and maintaining community-police trust. Policing Inside-Out brings participants together to study as peers in a facilitated environment. The core of the Policing Inside-Out Program is a semester-long academic course, consisting of Howard University students, police officers and community members. The closing ceremony highlighted the outcomes from the inaugural course including panel discussions surrounding trust, communication, transformation and next steps for community and police relations.