SUNY New Paltz University Police Department (UPD) Lieutenant Johnny Coxum was one of 24 officers from throughout the SUNY System to complete a national Fair and Impartial Policing (FIP) training program in Syracuse, N.Y. in January.
This “Train the Trainer” program is designed to work with leaders in the university law enforcement community, to increase officers’ understanding of how bias – especially implicit or unconscious bias – can impact policing, and offer techniques for ensuring that police are aware of their own biases and able to prevent them from affecting their interactions with the public.
“By acknowledging the unconscious bias that is naturally instilled in all of us, police officers are able to assess situations and individuals as they find them and not as they might anticipate them to be,” said University Police Commissioner Paul Berger. “This training will help us continue to build trust and strengthen our police force in partnership with campus leadership and local law enforcement agencies.”
Following his completion of the training, Lt. Coxum is now tasked with sharing these tactics with his colleagues in the New Paltz UPD. This is familiar work for Lt. Coxum, who had already been serving as a professional educator in cultural diversity with the SUNY Ulster Police Academy.
“This program provided valuable insight into the importance of being unbiased as a police officer,” Lt. Coxum said. “It was unique in the way it focused on our awareness of our own internal biases. All people have biases, and it’s important, especially for police officers, that we find ways to avoid letting these biases impact our day-to-day dealings with people. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to bring these new ideas to the trainings that I’m already involved with.”
SUNY is the largest university system in the country to provide the FIP training to its officers at this scale.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “We are proud to bring the Fair and Impartial Policing program to SUNY and to ensure that the officers keeping our campuses safe and secure have access to the newest and most efficient tools, training and best practices.”