Cultural competence training conducted for all Yale security officers

August 19, 2021

Cultural competence training was recently held as part of an overall goal to improve interactions between Yale Public Safety officers and the community. Over six days, all Yale security officers attended a four-hour workshop entitled “Cultural Competence and Empathy” lead by Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D. While security officers work three shifts over 24 hours, schedules were adjusted to allow everyone to attend.

The training focuses on bridging the gap of understanding between police and security officers and the communities they serve and is supported by evidence-based research. It includes a historical review of policing in the United States and around the world. Also discussed, in a cultural context, are current news, politics, and social events. Weaved in is a historical timeline on protesting in the United States and the perception of police and security officers and the uniform they wear.

“The main objective of this training is to help police and security officers understand the lived experience of the people they are serving. The workshop is scenario-based to get them to understand why people feel the way they do. It is a two-part process: 1) understand and acknowledge what the problem is, and 2) then how to move beyond this and restore broken relations and communities,” says Dr. Boyd.

During the session, guidance and techniques are provided on how public safety officers can change their approach while being more aware of cultural differences and perceptions. Lastly, the training focuses on developing empathy and understanding people’s past experiences with public safety officers. This includes understanding that some individuals needing help may be more afraid of the uniform than their current situation.

“The training helps officers readjust their perception before heading into a call. With these new techniques, they can react correctly and appropriately to provide individuals in distress the service they need. We hope they now have a greater understanding of cultural differences and better overall knowledge in a historical context,” says Reggie Chavis, Security Manager.

Dr. Boyd is president and founder of Renz Consulting, L.L.C. Its mission is to transform communities by improving police and citizen interaction. He starts the training by reviewing the history of violent protesting in the U.S., including the Boston Tea Party, women’s suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement. He moves on to explain why the uniform to some individuals can represent over authorizing action. Also, there is an overview in a cultural context that some people are inherently afraid of law enforcement or those in uniform representing authority.

“We provide awareness that some people may be terrified when they see a uniform, and how an officer can adjust their attitude and actions when responding to help someone. Ultimately, we are all civilians. For example, when officers go home, they hang up their uniforms, have dinner with their families and mow their lawn,” says Dr. Boyd.

As part of Yale Public Safety’s ongoing efforts to improve their services, they hired a consultant who assesesed the department’s operations. After reviewing their report, the leadership developed four pillars: strengthening, community, trust, and Confidence. This cultural awareness training is part of that goal.

Over the next six months, leadership will reevaluate how the officers implement these new techniques and training. “It takes time for a person to become proficient at something. But we received great feedback on the training overall and will keep track and revisit if more training is needed going forward,” says Reggie Chavis.