The “Policing Inside-Out: Building Trust Through Transformative Education” experiential learning model, which includes law enforcement and the Washington, D.C. community, grew out of a national grassroots movement to answer the concern of students as they watched protests and the Black Lives Matter Movement evolve around the deaths of black civilians by white law enforcement officers.
Howard University launched this course in the fall of 2016 through a partnership with the International Association of the Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the association’s Institute for Community-Police Relations. Due to the overwhelming success of the program, the IACP has plans to expand this course by partnering on a training course for colleges and communities and developing a law enforcement training program at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“This class has provided an opportunity to answer questions about race relations with minority communities and law enforcement,” said Bahiyyah Muhammad, Ph.D., founding director of the Policing Inside-Out courses and assistant professor in Howard University’s Department of Sociology and Criminology. “What we’re doing here at Howard is showing the future of black education in America and pushing the envelope around the controversial issue and coming up with an innovative solution.”
Howard University is the only college in the nation offering this course. Other courses include: Prisons Inside-Out (dealing with incarceration) and Juvenile Inside-Out (dealing with juvenile detention centers).
“The IACP is grateful for the partnership over the last year with Howard University and local law enforcement,” said IACP President Donald DeLucca. “The Policing Inside-Out class was exciting and we learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t.”
According to recent data collected by Howard University, 70 percent of Howard students in the Policing Inside-Out course expressed feelings of distrust of law enforcement prior to taking the course. By the completion of the 15-week course, this number dropped to 30 percent.
“I was taught not to have a relationship with law enforcement,” said Alia Lewis, a public relations major, who graduated in May. “I took the class because I’m passionate, and I want to have a relationship with law enforcement.”
Cameron Clark, a biology and health education double major, who graduated in May, said his “relationship with law enforcement has been non-existent.” He was hesitant to take the Policing Inside-Out course, but “it’s such an important topic, so I decided to stay.”
During the semester, students, community members and law enforcement officers were paired together in a classroom setting to engage in open dialogue about critical social justice issues, with the goal of strengthening minority communities and police relations. In addition to the class discussion and critical reading on minority community-police relations, participants were paired in a buddy system of law enforcement and students and emerged in trust-building field excursions that included police ride-alongs, museum trips, jail tour and discussion, and interactive shooting simulations.
“In order to have community policing there has to be a shift in your mindset,” said Lt. Tarrick McGuire, an Arlington Texas Police Department and IACP 2016-2017 fellow. “There is no secret to the issues law enforcement have been facing. People want to have a voice, and they want to be listened to," he said.
McGuire views the partnership between the IACP and Howard University as a great national initiative to encourage open dialogue with the community and to address the concerns of young millennials. In fact, 90 percent of the law enforcement officers who participated in the course mentioned the importance of building strong relationships with young citizens within the communities they serve.
Muhammad said she envisions the Policing Inside-Out course becoming an international model for building and strengthening minority communities and police relations. She wants Howard University to serve as the premier training ground for officers and police departments seeking best practices and evidence-based approaches for engaging with communities of color.
“By offering this course, we gained valuable insights directly from the students and law enforcement officers,” said Dr. Anthony K. Wutoh, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Howard University. “We plan to share the data insights we gained and use as a foundation working with the IACP to implement next steps in this important conversation."
Long term, the goal is to offer the Policing Inside-Out model to computer science and engineering majors to serve as social engineers and ambassadors for creating shooting simulations and ride-along scenarios at Howard University. There are also discussions to form future partnerships with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Capitol Police and global law enforcement departments.
A recent taping of the Howard University’s Policing Inside-Out student and officer roundtable can be viewed on WHUT @Howard – Policing Inside-Out Featuring Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad.