Murray State University partners with Paducah Police Department to promote cultural awareness

Murray State University partners with Paducah Police Department to promote cultural awareness

The Paducah Police Department has teamed up with Murray State University’s College of Education and Human Services to provide officers with an advanced training opportunity centered around diversity awareness.

MURRAY, KY (KFVS) - This partnership has been called the Cultural Leadership Academy.

The CLA works as a stackable credentials model, where officers who successfully complete the program may move forward to pursue University credit.

The credit hours can then be applied toward either a bachelor's or master's degree.

“In light of recent events occurring across the country, the Cultural Leadership Academy is a proactive approach by the Paducah Police Department to foster cultural awareness and support its officers in communication and interaction with diverse communities,” explained Dr. Teresa Clark of Murray State University.

Paducah's assistant chief of police Brian Krueger recognized the need for such a program following media coverage of the 2014 incidents in Ferguson, Mo. and other related events since that time.

“The experts interviewed on national media outlets kept commenting on their perception of an existing training issue,” said Krueger. “This certainly could hold true in some jurisdictions.  In Kentucky, we feel that training is cutting edge and therefore less of a potential factor.”

"Training typically reinforces something that a person already knows or is at least somewhat familiar with, while education exposes someone to a topic they have very little or no previous exposure to," continued Krueger. "For law enforcement in Kentucky, the question became: 'What could the content be for an educational platform that focused on improving the understanding of our community and the outcomes of day-to-day, street-level encounters for our officers?'"

The academy began in April 2016 and consists of four modules with two occurring throughout the week in April and two during a week in September.

The intensive training sessions are held Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through a combination of lecture, inventories, case studies and rich discussions, among other activities.

As Krueger explained, "The content of this program is specifically designed to broaden the understanding of local communities as a whole through learning about factors that exist within them, like the difficulties faced by racial and ethnic minorities and cultural diversity, while also broadening the participant's understanding of topics related to the individual officer, like emotional and social intelligence and ethics."

Murray State University and the Paducah Police Department will continue working together to measure the success of the program, though much of its effects are likely to be seen in a broader scope. 

 One question on the horizon is whether or not the CLA will remain a more local program or seek out certification through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council to become a statewide initiative.

“One hope,” remarks Krueger, “is that this training will translate into not only better understanding ourselves but also our communities as a whole and others whom we may encounter on a daily basis while we serve and protect.  If that holds true, I hope other agencies will be calling and asking how they can be involved.”

A certificate ceremony for these initial officers will take place during the fall, following completion of the remaining modules.  

To learn more about the Cultural Leadership Academy and how your local law enforcement agencies may participate, contact Dr. Teresa Clark at 270-809-6956.

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