Police officers are busy.
With patrols, training, paperwork and the other various duties each officer has, their schedules are packed. But the Oklahoma State University Police Department still made time to focus on diversity.
In 2019, the OSUPD officers were involved in a 10-Hour Inclusive Excellence Certificate Program to help promote diversity in the department.
“No one likes to think of themselves that they’re not doing something the right way,” Chief Leon Jones of the OSUPD said.
Before the program, the department’s diversity training was “window dressing,” Jones said, and he said the new training made an impact on the department.
Jason Kirksey, the vice president for Institutional Diversity at OSU, created the program to be split into several sessions designed to be discussion-based and was intended to cause some discomfort.
Kirksey said OSUPD’s completion of the training shows the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion across campus.
“The fact that the initial area of OSU to complete the program was every sworn police officer, as well as OSU’s Chief Public Safety Officer, Michael Robinson is impressive and makes a strong statement about the university’s core values,” Kirksey said.
One of OSUPD’s core values is respect, a value which was reinforced by the diversity program.
The program taught principles assuring officers that awkward conversations are okay, seeing differences is okay and giving individuals equal treatment instead of equitable treatment often leads to insufficient results. All of these concepts have their foundations in respect.
Captain Colt Chandler of the OSUPD explained why it is crucial for a university police department, especially, to adopt values of transparency and respect.
“We pride ourselves in the sense that we get to capture people’s perspectives from across the globe,” Chandler said. “This is a snapshot in their lives, but if we can make an impact on what policing should be, then they can have a model of what to expect when they go home.”
The department will provide this training for every incoming officer, and Jones plans on requiring support staff and other citizens to take it as well. The program will also be updated biannually, and new versions will be required for every current and future member of the department.
The OSUPD hopes these efforts toward betterment will continue, and Jones encourages other campus departments to follow in their footsteps and incorporate the program into their departments.
“For Dr. Kirksey to come up with this is brilliant” Jones said.