Police Training Varies from State to State

Hailey Griffin , Arts Editor

The national outcry for racial justice sparked by concerns over brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement has brought about a public re-evaluation of police training and practices.  

Police training curriculum differs from state to state.  

According to Ken Zimny, Associate Dean of Human and Protective Services and Law Enforcement Academy Director at Madison College, the state curriculum in Wisconsin teaches several components ranging from defense and arrest tactics, to firearm usage, to vehicle stops, to cultural competence. 

While Wisconsin’s law enforcement training curriculum covers several subjects, most trainees receive less than a year to learn the curriculumAccording to Wisconsin Statute 165.85, 4(a) 1, law enforcement and tribal enforcement officer preparatory training must meet a minimum of 600 hours 

The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board Policy and Procedure Manual states that an updated law enforcement officer curriculum consists of 720 hours of preparatory training. 

At Madison College, law enforcement academy training lasts for a total of 18 weeks.  

Every topic that new police officer has to learn could use more time. Diversity type training—cultural competence—definitely could stand to be longer,” said Zimny 

According to Zimnydiversity training in the Law Enforcement Academy at Madison College, coined cultural competence, lasts eight hours, divided into two fourhour blocks.   

 As far as the things we can improve on? More time. More time on, you know, racial sensitivity, racial educationthe history of racism in this countryI think that would be a good thing to add to the cultural competence,” Zimny said.   

Zimny said that working on cultural competence would be a good first step but is not the only thing that needs to be done. He also believes that having more people of color in the law enforcement field and creating more positive interactions between the police and people of color is important 

If you’re talking about ethics, you know, I think that is one of those things that our whole society could improve a lot on. I mean, police officers are microcosm of society. Police officers come from people who live in society. I think ethics are something that has kind of started to slack overall in the community, and I think policing is not different,” said Zimny. 

From the perspective of a Refuse Fascism Chicago Organization memberLou Downey, the first step towards evaluating police training and bringing forth racial justice requires public awareness.  

“I think the main thing I’m looking for is if there is a massive awakening around white supremacy and around the role of the police and that organization goes further, in terms of the struggle against both police abuse and terror,” said Downey.  

As someone who attended protests against police brutality in Kenosha and several other citiesDowney saw how this kind of massive awakening began to take place this past summer.  

“The point has been made that more has been accomplished in three months of protesting over the summer of 2020 than in years and years and years of trying to work through the political system itself,” said Downey 

The protests that we’ve seen this past summer have raised awareness about the challenges that face this country regarding racial justice and the police. While there are several other steps that can be taken to ensure that racial justice progresses in our society, one important step is re-evaluating police training.