Training Discusses Trust, Brutality, Racism and Need for Continued Dialogue
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Graduation came a little early last night for 27 Tennessee State University students …but not from college. The students are part of Nashville’s first class of a newly formed Collegiate Citizen Police Academy organized by the Nashville Metro Police Department.
Mayor Carl Dean, Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, TSU Police Chief Anthony Carter, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Michael Freeman, were on hand to congratulate the graduates, who underwent five weeks of learning the intricacies of police work. The training also gave the students the opportunity to discuss trust, issues of brutality and racism with officers.
Before the training, like many in the wake of mounting allegations and suspicions of police abuse targeted at African Americans, 21-year-old Tyler Ellis, held some very strong opinions. But he always wanted to get a behind-the-scene feel of actual police intervention and reaction beyond what is usually portrayed on television.
“What we usually see is very disturbing,” said Ellis, a junior Criminal Justice major from Waterbury, Connecticut. “In many cases that’s the result, but I like to also understand what the police officer was faced with in the beginning. This training gave us new insights into what officers go through daily, and that what we usually see on television many times changes the perspectives on what actually happened.”
Calling the academy very timely, Mayor Dean thanked TSU President Glenda Glover, and Reverend Frank Stevenson, who came up with the idea of the Collegiate Citizen Police Academy, for allowing the program to take place with TSU students on the campus.
“We hope through this program and many others we have collaborated on, people will know that in Nashville, we have a strong relationship with our institutions,” Dean said. “Nashville is not perfect but it is through programs like this that we can have an honest dialogue about how we move on. This program has made the TSU neighborhood and Nashville a better place.”
Police Chief Anderson described the training as “the kind of dialogue” that has helped Nashville keep away from the kinds of disturbances with police and citizens across the nation.
“We are accountable for one another,” he said. “We are not perfect. This kind of program is so valuable for our community and country.”
As a follow-up to their training, the graduates have been assigned to the various police precincts across the city, where they must complete ride-along duties over the next two months, according to Metro Police Sgt. Mitch Kornberg, who coordinated the training along with Sgt. Raymond Jones.
“These graduates are not police officers and are not given any police duty,” Kornberg said. “The ride-along is an opportunity to work with officers on shifts to give them a better understanding of what officers do. This helps them to see things differently and understand that things are not always what they appear.”
The idea for the Collegiate Citizen Police Academy is the brainchild of Reverend Stevenson, pastor of St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church and director of Strategic Populations in the Office of Student Affairs.
“I wanted to establish a forum that would bring young black men together with police in the wake of the protests and outrage that stemmed from allegations of racially motivated police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and beyond,” Stevenson said.
He joined forces with the Reverend Enoch Fuzz, pastor of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church to bring the idea to Police Chief Anderson, who right away embraced it and in a few weeks, the academy was underway.
Along with Ellis other graduates included: Nawaf Aldosari, Tevin Cannon, Mark Clear, Jamarius Cooper, Anthony Daniels, Oluwatolin Emonowa, Zach Eskew, Byron Fisher, Haggaikiah Futch, Ryan Gammon and Kadarrious Greene. Also graduating were Jamaul Greenlee, Malik Hayes, Rico Hunt, James Jefferson, David Jenkins, Davis Washington, Jalen Moore, Christopher Penilton, Justin Roberson, James Scott, Vantorius Stewart, Dominique Thomas, Lebron Worthington, Derion Munn and Quiadell Cousin.
Also making remarks at the ceremony were Dr. Freeman, Chief Carter and the Reverend Fuzz.
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3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 45 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.