MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - The Miami-Dade Police Department is working to improve the public image of its officers with training on bias. President Barack Obama's task force has pushed the program for some departments in the wake of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
"It definitely makes you sit back and say, 'Hmm,' because, like he said, we all have our biases," Maj. Jennifer Montgomery said.
"For so long the conversation has been framed improperly, that only ill-intentioned people have biases. That's simply not true," lead trainer Capt. Anthony Raimondo said.
Recognizing those biases and overcoming them is what the Miami-Dade Police Department is learning. Local 10 News had the only camera inside the room as command staff like Montgomery went through the fair and impartial policing training.
"Policing based on stereotypes is 1. Ineffective; 2. It's unsafe and 3. It's unjust," Raimondo said.
The program gained federal support following the deadly officer-involved shooting and civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The Department of Justice brought it in to educate several police departments and Miami-Dade requested it.
"Incidents that have occurred other places harm us here as well," Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said. "So when there's strained relationships in other cities, we tend to feel it as well."
Perez said the training is an opportunity for police and the community and it comes a day after the county approved body cameras for Miami-Dade officers. That's something the director said he's pushed for, and all part of building trust.
"The ultimate goal is that the community is going to help us single out individuals who are causing harm out there, so that we can target those individuals," Perez said.
Perez credited the community in helping officers arrest suspects in recent shootings that killed young children, including last month's shooting of 6-year-old King Carter.
Montgomery said in her 27 years on the job, policing has changed and so has the community they serve.
"Because it goes far far beyond just kicking in doors and taking people to jail, and I think we're heading in the right direction when it comes to that," she said.
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