Police agencies receiving federal funding for ‘Peace Officer’ training as police move to transform themselves
In the wake of the DOJ investigation into Louisville police and the release of Tyre Nichols body cam footage, new calls for national police reform by the Congress are many, but actual proposals are none. Gridlock is a near-term reality of this Congress, despite Federally-mandated police reform remaining an ambition of many lawmakers. There are no major initiatives in the House to reform policing. And Senators are not actively working on the issue after talks fell through in 2021.
But despite perennial gridlock, Federally-backed police reform is underway around the nation, says the 501 (c)(3) organization Police2Peace. Its national ‘Peace Officer’ training platform is currently being used by departments and police personnel around the nation to transform every aspect of policing for safer interactions, preventing crime and improving quality of life for the public. And unlike costly, often unwieldly, external reforms which some lawmakers demand, this approach is low cost and easily scalable.
Moreover, police agencies which undertake the ‘Peace Officer’ training platform may apply for Federal funding to pay for the training from the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to Lisa Broderick, Executive Director of Police2Peace, “Because Police2Peace is a U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance National Training and Technical Assistance (BJA NTTAC TTA) provider, funding assistance may be requested by police agencies for the cost of the Peace Officer training which Police2Peace delivers”.
And with the US DOJ COPS Office opening its CPD Microgrants program, agencies may apply for a year of ‘Peace Officer’ training under this grant program.
The first departments are already applying and receiving grants. Arizona State University Police Department, located in Tempe, AZ, applied for BJA NTTAC to provide its 98 officers with ‘Peace Officer’ training. With more than 140,000 students, Arizona State University, also known as ASU, is the country’s largest university. (1)
“I recently heard one of our officers say, ‘Here at ASU PD, we’re all about Police2Peace.’” said Michael Thompson, chief of the ASU PD. “That’s because we’re about community and service. The Peace Officer training we’re now going through is in complete alignment with who we are and how we serve out student community. And access to Federal funds through the BJA NTTAC is a great way to bring this training to all of our nearly 100 officers”.
Agencies have already applied for and received US DOJ COPS Office grants. The Green Bay Police Department, the University of Nevada Reno Police Department and the Yavapai College Community Safety Department all applied for and received grants for ‘Peace Officer’ training. That training is underway now.
The Peace Officer training program is unusual in policing because it takes a whole-of-community approach to changing police culture. This includes the individuals who police departments recruit, hire and promote, as well as their mission, vision and values. It sets expectations for officers to be guardians in their communities serving as ‘Peace Officers’ where the policing they engage in is effective, empathetic and just. And it includes courses for elected officials, community leaders and police unions to help those stakeholder groups understand their vital role in advancing the transformation of the law enforcement officers to Peace Officer culture.
Currently, hundreds of police personnel from agencies all over the nation are engaged in the ‘Peace Officer’ training.
At a time when millions of people are asking some tough questions about policing, Broderick maintains that its ‘Peace Officer’ training is a simple, nationally scalable reform. “What can Congress do to help?”, continued Broderick. “It can recommend and fund this type of training, fund research into the area and use its bully pulpit to frame cops as ‘peace officers’ to advance the perception of police as peacekeepers who sometimes have to enforce the law.” Police2Peace sees this new training and certification as a simple, nationally scalable way to change the approach and culture of policing for all police departments.