Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission Recommends Anti-Racism Training for Officers

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Philadelphia’s Police Advisory Commission on Tuesday recommended anti-racism training for police officers following a review of the April arrests of two black men who were waiting for a friend inside a Starbucks, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The commission found that “infusing anti-racist principles into the operations of the Philadelphia Police Department may not only help prevent future incidents but can help officers in their day-to-day relationship building.”

The commission, a citizen oversight board, spent months reviewing the episode, which triggered national outrage and sparked conversations about police practices and racial profiling.

The arrests occurred when Starbucks employees called the police after the two black men refused to leave the premises – the pair had not made any purchases while waiting for a friend. Following the controversy, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores just for the afternoon to hold anti-bias training for its employees, according to The Hill.

The commission’s executive director Hans Menos said the “goal for us was to help everyone understand that issues can be nuanced and tinged with race, or affected by race and racism, and the Police Department, often, is the person at the front lines of all of our issues,” according to the Inquirer.

He emphasized that “it’s imperative, or incumbent upon them to understand that, and combat that.”

Police Commissioner Richard Ross rejected the idea that racism drives citizen-police contact.

“Rather, we believe the profound effect on what drives citizen and police contact lies in criminal conduct and victimization,” he wrote. However, he said “We can agree that biases, whether implicit or explicit, may distort the fears and perception of some citizens who call the police to report crimes.”

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