SEATTLE — A training program within the Seattle Police Department is focusing on building relationships within the community, before law enforcement tactics.
The "Before the Badge" program is intended to help recruits gain a better understanding of the people they will eventually swear to serve, according to the department. They build relationships before receiving their badges.
“It’s really to build the culture of the department that this is what is valued and how we establish those relationships," Police Chief Adrian Diaz said. "Prior to ever even going into the academy or stepping into a patrol car.”
Before Seattle police recruits attend the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission for the mandatory 720-hour law enforcement training, they attend the Before the Badge training, which launched in May.
The five-week training immerses recruits in community-based, peer-based and introspective experiences. The training is made up of three parts:
- Meet with community groups to have discussions as individuals about policing in Seattle
- Work with the Wellness Unit to obtain tools to help with the stresses of the job
- Learn about SPD precincts, officers, opportunities, and leadership
The program also includes "exploration of the policing progression's racist history, gender responsiveness and the science of relationship-based policing."
Victoria Beach with the African American Community Advisory Council said, "A lot of officers that work in our community, some of them may not have been around African Americans. You can't just throw police into different communities without them knowing the history."
Beach said the program shows that the Seattle Police Department cares and "they're listening, they're trying - and they're trying to build a better police department."