Ward 3 Marshal’s Office tackles diversity training with help from the community

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Diversity and transparency have come more into question following the pandemic and recent deadly officer-involved shootings.

While the continued disruption of the coronavirus pandemic is doubtlessly top of mind for all HR leaders, a new survey finds that strategizing for diversity, equity and inclusion is actually an even more pressing concern. The finding comes from an annual spring survey of the HR Policy Association.

Cultural diversity training is nothing new for local law enforcement agencies, but the Ward 3 Marshal’s Office is hoping to take a new approach by enlisting the help of the community.

“Since George Floyd’s death in the public sector, there’s been more of a demand for true diversity or equity diversity inclusion training,” said Consultant Flint D. Mitchell, Ph.D.

The engagement event allowed marshal deputies and residents to talk in a safe space about ways to strengthen communications and trust, so people of all backgrounds feel comfortable talking to the police about any issues.

“You can’t really do that work without understanding concepts around racism, poverty, etc.,” said Mitchell.

Ward 3 Marshal Nathan Keller is hoping that by opening Friday’s training session to community organizations, it will bridge an even broader gap.

”It was imperative for me to make sure we had some community leaders to come to this workshop; as well, because you get a different sector, you get different people with different voices saying ‘why do you do this?’” Keller said. “So, now they can go out and be voices for law enforcement as well.”

Leading the training was Dr. Flint Mitchell, a Lake Charles native who says in order for police engagement to improve, residents must all take a seat at the table.

“This particular workshop that we will be doing today will center on equity; although, we will talk about aspects of diversity and inclusion. More particularly, we will focus on bias today and the concept of privilege,” said Mitchell.

Deputy Marshal Kevin Reeves has served at the Ward 3 Marshal’s Office for 17 years, and he feels certain aspects of the job have taken on a more magnified tone in recent years.

”Somebody may think that we look at everyone as an outgroup, and that’s a perception of all law enforcement right now,” Reeves said.

Prior to being elected, Keller laid out a laundry list of objectives he wanted to bring to the marshal’s office.

“All of these things have to come to the table, and we have to not be limited to saying we can’t discuss this. We have to have open and candid discussion. This is the only way we’re going to grow in this city and in our communities,” Keller said.

HR Policy Association asked respondents if and how their approach has changed since the death of George Floyd last spring.

The vast majority (85%) have expanded inclusion activities and increased C-suite involvement, and 70% either started or enhanced unconscious bias training, while 57% understood analysis of disaggregated workforce demographic data. Just about half sought to hire from educational institutions with strong minority talent.

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