ANTI-BIAS AND CULTURAL COMPETENCY TRAINING
Cultural competency training is not the end-all, be-all solution. Rather, RJC acknowledges it as only a beginning.
In 2018, the Tampa Citizen Review Board hired the New York Policing Project to conduct a survey of attitudes toward the Tampa Police Department. The results were complied shortly after RJC had attempted to meet with Chief Brian Dugan to discuss the concerns we had regarding racial disparity, in which we were abruptly escorted out of the meeting.
The results of the survey are viewable here. One of the most important factors the community asked for was bias training:
"Finally, respondents were asked to identify the TPD practices that are the most important for the CRB to examine. Their top five, in order of importance, were:
o Community Policing
o Body Cameras
o Interactions with Individuals with Mental Illness
o Use of Force o Bias Training • However, among respondents who had negative experiences with TPD, the top three items were: Use of Force, Body Cameras, and Bias Training. (See Part VII and Appendix F.)"
In April of 2018, the City hosted a public forum for a Charter Review Commission to update and amend the City's document of governance. In this article, you will see: "Another interesting topic was discussed in the good groundswell of public participation at last week's meeting. Nearly two dozen people showed up after work, some with their kids, and stood to be heard. Given the grimly of-the-moment subject of police shootings, some asked for specific training for Tampa police officers in what's called cultural competency and implicit bias instruction, which aims to make people aware of biases they may carry and help them understand cultures that are not their own. In the end, the board agreed to recommend this for all city employees." RJC had organized this public engagement and several supporters across organizers came to speak. John Godwin, community activist, also came out and helped add important language to the anti-discrimination charter.
The charter approved RJC's initiative and in March of 2019, it went before the City voters as Charter Amendment #16, who approved it by 75%.
Finally, in December of 2019, the City Council held a meeting to discuss plans of how to implement the charter amendment. RJC responded by performing public comment once again. Prior to the meeting, several supporters e-mailed City Council in support of the Restorative Justice Cultural Competency Program. Here's public comment:
On March 26, the City will be creating the enforcement ordinance. Stay tuned!