GRCC Academy uses calls for police reform to adjust teaching

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the topic of police reform is front and center across the country, tomorrow’s officers are watching from the classroom.

“It’s absolutely at the forefront,” said Jermaine Reese, the director of the Grand Rapids Community College Police and Corrections Academy. “It creates a dynamic atmosphere for us to really, really engage and do a deep dive into this conversation to see what went wrong and what broke down.”

Lessons involving the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck and the subsequent protests — and riots — will be added to the curriculum. Cadets will be asked to consider “how can they begin to change some of these wrongs that we see manifesting in our system,” Reese said.

The academy had already planned to add new implicit bias training and Reese said Floyd’s death further highlights why it is important.

“It’s eight hours of dealing with implicit biases, how they affect your judgement, how they affect your decision making and how understanding how to manage them helps you to become a better officer,” he explained.

Reese hopes his students will have the confidence to face the challenge.

“If you find yourself in a situation like that, you have to be willing to respond,” Reese said. “You have a duty to protect citizens against any and everyone, no matter what they look like, no matter whether they wear the uniform or not.”