JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Learning to better police in minority communities, that’s what a group of out-of-state police officers are trying to do. They spent time visiting Jackson for a history lesson.
It was an eye-opening experience for these law enforcement officers from Arizona and Illinois. A tour of the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson gave them a better understanding of racism in the South.
“I would say the biggest thing is realizing how much I didn’t learn in school and how racism existed. It still does exist, but I never really knew to the extent that it does here in Mississippi or Louisiana. There aren’t a lot of blended front groups down here. Families in Louisiana here, as well. Racism is just still very much alive,” said Sydney Cereska, a police officer in Tempe, Arizona.
Policing can be dangerous, but also rewarding. These officers traveled to the South to get a better understanding of how to police in Black and brown communities.
“That’s what’s great about what Telos is doing. I’m seeing a transformation in the police officers that are coming here primarily because of what is being offered. I’m seeing a mindset change. Police leadership, this pilgrimage is what’s making a huge difference in our ability to change how we go about policing,” said Andre Anderson, Executive Assistant Police Chief in Tempe, Arizona.
This pilgrimage to the South is something these officers say was so important to improving their job.
“It’s extremely important. Number one, so we can know our American history. That’s something that we can always learn from. If we’re not learning it, obviously, we’re going to be doomed to repeat that. As far as taking this information back to my job and how important it is, it’s just because we’re dealing with this community every day and some of the issues that they dealt with, they’re still in existence today,” said Ryan Garnett, a police officer in Tempe, Arizona.
It’s a lesson from the South that these officers hope to put on the streets in Arizona and Illinois.
“What I’m hoping to take back is just being able to build upon that trust, cultivate that trust with the community. Community policing is huge. That’s a big part of why I got into this job is I like that. I’m a very social person and I like building those relationships with my community. I’m not just there to show up and do a job,” said Cereska.
The Telos group started this tour to the South in 2019, but they’ve been doing work around the world for almost 14 years.