On Wednesday, Morgan State University’s School of Social Work (SSW) launched its Cultural Competency Training for Baltimore City police officers, a bold new program designed to improve police-community relations.

The training is also meant to reduce the number of negative interactions between police officers and the public, a press release announcing the news states.

Close to 70 law enforcement officers representing both BPD and Morgan State University were on hand for a full morning where they launched a “deep dive” into various issues ranging from public perceptions and attitudes to understanding generational communication barriers and opportunities.

“Our faculty in the School of Social Work is a highly prepared and trained group of clinicians, and we are very pleased to do all that we can to build bridges between neighborhoods and law enforcement,” said Dr. Anna McPhatter, dean of the School of Social Work. “Our goal is to increase the knowledge and skills of police officers that they may be able to use in their interactions with citizens. We want them to understand the uniqueness of the culture in our city and to accept and value Baltimore’s citizens in the same manner they would themselves or others.”

The training, presented by SSW faculty members Dr. Linda Darrell, Dr. Paul Archibald and Dr. Kevin Daniels, explored different topics of discussion with assistance from social work students.

Dr. McPhatter believes that teaching law enforcement officers how to communicate effectively with people who may be racially, ethnically and culturally different from them is a critical part of training.

The training is a result of Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis reaching out to Morgan for assistance with launching such a program last year. The idea is that the collaboration will become a national model.