The Norman Police Department is implementing a new training program for all officers, aimed at improving race relations and emotional control.
The Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement (RITE) Program is designed to help police officers gauge their own feelings to better manage interactions with the public. In the age of body cams and viral videos, it just may help rebuild some of the trust lost.
The emotional ladder is about to become a key tool across the Norman police force.
Capt. Blake Green explains, “At the top you have positive emotions: love, joy, gratitude, passion. At the bottom you have some things like blame, anger, hate, so our goal is to understand where you are on your ladder.”
Before responding to a call, officers will identify where they fall on the ladder at that moment. The higher the rung, the better. A card showing an image of the ladder goes home with each officer after the training.
Green says, “We would have the officers, on the sun visor of their car, put a couple rubber bands around this so when they get out of their car they’re seeing this. They’re thinking about it.”
Green says when they are in the right head space, officers should be able to think with clarity and empathy for the citizens, no matter their background. During training, videos show how negative emotions lead to unnecessary negative interactions. Then the trainers lead a discussion about how the video makes the officers feel, followed by showing a funny video with a similar conversation.
The class has already helped Green improve interactions with his family, let alone the public. By the end of the year, each of Norman's officers may feel the same.
“It’s important to understand that we do have biases and that we do, as human beings, gravitate towards things that are like us,” Green explains, “so understanding those differences and those preferences helps us understand and be more socially aware.”
Green admits there will still be times when officers need to use force to resolve a situation, but he believes if everyone in the public had this training, too, society as a whole would be better off.
To learn more about RITE training, click here.