COLUMBIA — After training all officers in fair and impartial policing, the Columbia Police Department will refresh them on the subject next year.
The training, which aims to combat the influence of bias in officer decisions, has been presented to every officer on the force over the last year and will also be taught to new hires in the future. The course is taught by Sgt. Mike Hestir of the Community Outreach Unit, and was developed by Lorie Fridell, an associate criminology professor at the University of South Florida.
Chief of Police Ken Burton said the course is popular with officers, partially because of Hestir's instruction. Officers see Hestir as credible, a perception that was reflected in officer feedback on the course, Burton said. Hestir presented the course to the public Nov. 5.
The course fulfills a new requirement for Missouri police departments: beginning in January, every police force must train officers for two hours a year in fair and impartial policing and implicit bias. Police departments will also be required to give all officers 24 hours of continuing education a year, rather than 48 hours every three years.
Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said she did not know if the course would be four hours long, as the course is currently taught, or the two hours mandated by law. Police Trainer Andre Cook said all officers would see the same material, whether they are taking it as a refresher or for the first time.
The increased training hours will also include a procedural justice course, a course in interviewing victims of sexual assault, called You Have Options, and firearms training, Burton said. He said requirements often change in response to adjustments in law enforcement, and "training is kind of a moving target."
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