FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – George Floyd’s death and other incidents of police brutality have sparked conversations about changes needed when it comes to law enforcement training.
At Fresno City College’s Police Academy, the advisory committee has created a task force of members who will review its curriculum.
“As the recent events have unfolded, the need to expand that and have a task force looking at our curriculum, again looking at what we’ve done, what we are doing now and how can we evolve and can be better,” Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith said.
She said the task force is made up of faculty, religious leaders and community members, including Barrios Unidos.
“It brings us a lot of peace to know that we’re gonna have the opportunity to elevate the experiences, the needs, the narratives of how our folks experience law enforcement on the ground and translate that into ways in which we can prevent that harm,” said Ashley Rojas, the executive director at Fresno Barrios Unidos.
Goldsmith said the time to have these conversations is now.
“It’s going to be a short timeline because we know that the time is now and we want to be prepared for when the California Board of Governors will be asking all of the colleges that have police academies to take a deep look,” she said. “This is the first step in really looking at the reform we’ve done and the reform we need to do.”
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was directing the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to end the training of the carotid hold.
Gary Fief, the director of the police academy at Fresno City College, said that went into effect immediately.
Cadets at Fresno City College go through more than 1,000 hours of training — 664 is the minimum in California.
Fief said if the task force finds that more hours are needed, the academy is open to that.
“We’re always looking at can we do additional hours, can we enhance our program in any way, so that’s why we’re having these conversations now,” Fief said.
The incidents of police brutality have also created conversations among cadets and instructors.
“We’ve had that discussion that no matter where you are at in your career, whether you’re a rookie or very high up, you have to be able to step in no matter who that person is and tell them ‘hey, this isn’t okay, take a step back, let me handle this,'” said Kayla Irwin, a cadet at the police academy.
Terry McCoy has been in the academy for almost seven months. He has four weeks left of training.
“I think right now is the time that we should have those difficult conversations and talk about the things that normally we wouldn’t talk about because it’s just learning from both sides so that we can get a complete understanding and fix the problems that we do have,” McCoy said.