WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) — Wichita Police Department (WPD) officers will undergo 40 hours of diversity training after racist and inappropriate text messages were sent by members of the department.
Two of the required hours included conversations with minorities in the Wichita community.
A WPD officer said those talks were crucial.
“Overall, our job and our goal is to build this relationship so that we can give the community what it needs, what it wants, what it wants,” the police officer said. of Wichita, Jordan Edison.
Officer Edison grew up in Wichita.
He says he uses his experiences and perception of the police to help connect with the community, but it’s also community leaders who need to help unite minorities with the police.
“We have to take a step. If we sit back and do nothing, what we got is what we’re going to keep getting,” said Pastor Odell Harris Jr.
Pastor Harris spoke to the officers. He said many families raise their children in fear of the police and that perception needs to change.
“Hopefully it will change from you, and them, to just being us. We need to bridge the gap, break down those walls and build strong relationships, and so we can help the next generation,” Pastor Harris said.
Hispanic community leaders have shared why they think there is such fear of the police. They say it stems from citizenship and police corruption in some of their home countries.
“I think they learned from us and understood our heritage, who we are, the things and struggles we go through as a people and what we would like to see,” said Angel Martinez, the founder of Love Your. Community.
Both groups recommended that officers make positive connections when in the community with young people, such as offering to buy them pizza or simply going to a basketball game with them. Leaders hope this will change children’s ideas of officers.