Police learn about cultural diversity

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2001

Members of the Greenville Police Department, in efforts to become more in-tune with the pulses of the community, took part Wednesday in a seminar geared toward understanding of cultural diversities.

Greenville officers met in two sessions at the Greenville-Butler County Public Library for a workshop conducted by Gerald Carter, from Carter and Associates, Inc., in which they took active roles in learning through continued education of advances made in techniques used by law enforcement officers.

Carter, a former federal law enforcement agent, said the purpose of the course was to improve community relations through diversity skill training.

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"This professional development workshop teaches officers to appreciate the differences in culture, and how important they are, but it also teaches that cultural difference is not the highest priority of competence n the ability to treat cultures in a fair and consistent manner is more important, no matter how much the officer knows about that culture," Carter said. "The basis of this training program is built on the concept that human behavior is not random. Observed over time, it is fairly consistent, and

this consistency crosses cultural boundaries.

"This workshop trains participants to identify and deal with behavior patterns related to personality," he said. "Both sworn and non-sworn officers can reduce stress and increase effectiveness by using a basic understanding of personality differences. Officers that are in emotional control of a situation are more likely to exercise good judgement in dealing with the public."

The program included interactive exercises that demonstrate how to do things such as controlling stress levels and identifying personality differences, and typing behavior for more effective communications.

"Recognizing that everyone carries with them experiences from their life that have shaped their perceptions of the world is imperative," Carter said. "This dictates how we react to different people and situations."

Chief Lonzo Ingram said this course, well-received by his officers, is just one attempt at reaching out to better serve the community.

"Our nation is becoming more and more a true melting pot' of cultural diversity," Ingram said. "Law enforcement officers have to interact with those different cultures, dealing with both cultural and personality differences."

Ingram said the goal of his department is clear.

"We are here to serve the community, and with that in mind, our goal is to treat everyone with respect and fairness, regardless of their cultural and personality differences," Ingram said. "We encourage those with questions or comments to contact us at 334-382-7461."