Rita Mullin

Diversity Training

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

Recognizing the importance of respecting the diversity in our community and tolerating the differences found among the residents of Palatine, all sworn officers have received sixteen hours of training in cultural diversity. The Department has taken this proactive stance since 1992 to assure that officers are carrying out their responsibilities from a position of strength through understanding.

Introducing the officers to the differences between various members of the community and helping to familiarize them with the Spanish-surnamed, European, Asian and African-American cultures. The course of instruction provided the officers with insights into the cultural beliefs, traits, attire, customs, morals, institutions, food, family structures and religions common to the various groups making their homes in Palatine.

Training Bulletins provide updates on a periodic basis. In 1994 the department began to frequently interact with the local Sikh community, as the only Sikh temple in Illinois is located in our community. A Training Bulletin was published to familiarize officers and civilian personnel with these new members of our community. The Bulletin emphasized Sikh beliefs and practices so that officers would be more understanding in their interaction with them.

2. How is the program financed?

The Palatine Police Department budget.

3. What are the major lessons learned that would be helpful for others trying to implement a similar program? What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?

Understanding various population groups is important for law enforcement to be able to deliver effective service. Customs and practices easily violated by officers can offend certain groups and alienate the police from the community. Another important aspect of diversity training for police that is often overlooked is knowing the modus operandi of specific groups and the particular crimes these groups commit. Police also learned that certain groups have derogatory gestures that officers may receive unknowingly, mistaking these gestures as friendly actions.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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