Over 25 police cadets train with BRPD amid nationwide police reform movement
BATON ROUGE - Training is underway for 29 future Baton Rouge Police officers.
Chief Murphy Paul said during a press conference last week that the department is refocusing on recruiting and training following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in late May.
Cadets in the 86th BRPD Police Academy started their training less than a week after Floyd's death. They have studied policing as protests calling for police reform spread across the country.
In classroom one at police headquarters on Tuesday, future officers began learning about the law they will soon enforce.
"Legal aspects, everything from the Louisiana revised statutes, basically defining what the different crimes are, to letting them understand just the basics of probable cause, reasonable suspicion,” Cpl. T.J. Morse said.
In recent years, the law course has expanded from seven to nine days of training. Morse has been involved in police training at BRPD for 14 years and says it is just one of many changes that he has overseen.
A number of those policy changes came in 2017 after a Baton Rouge Police officer shot and killed Alton Sterling in 2016.
“Everything from retraining our current officers, to what can we do at the basic level with the academy. They’re only in their third week right now but we’ve already had classes on biased policing, ethical treating of people, stereotyping. They’ve already had those kinds of base classes so that they can continue to apply them and we’re going to revisit those things with procedural justice classes. Deescalation classes, we implement that in all forms of our training from scenario-based training to the classroom to everywhere. We’re always talking about how to handle people,” Morse said.
Among those in this current class, Cadet Darnell Brown says that he sees policing as his life calling.
“Where I was growing up at it wasn't the best area to grow up in. Police officers weren’t looked at as people you would look up to or somebody that you wanted to be. And I definitely, for one thing, wanted to change that,” Brown said.
As the country takes a hard look at the current state of law enforcement, Brown says it’s only confirmed his decision to try to make a difference in his community.
“That’s just pushed me even further to do this job even more. To not only just want to know all the things and aspects of this job, but even wanting to sharpen my mind and sharpen my skills to do the best that I can for the community and for everybody that I come in contact with.”
Morse says that skill set is constantly changing as the role of officers shifts into a new era of policing.
“As society changes, what they expect of their police officer changes, we kind of have to change our role too. It’s not as simple now as ‘hey, I need you to put your hands behind your back.’ We live in a society now it’s like, ‘i need you to put your hands behind your back and let me explain to you why,’ Morse said.
Baton Rouge Police are now also involving the city’s human resource director in its hiring processes. They say that’s in order to help improve diversity within the department.
The current class of police cadets still have around 19 weeks of training left before they’ll be officially sworn in as officers.