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Cultural awareness training for Tucson PD recruits

Posted at 10:53 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 01:53:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — There's a new lesson you'll learn when you join the force at Tucson Police Department.

"It's really important for these recruits to learn early on how best to approach Latinos," said Claudia Jasso, from 'Amistades.'

The training course in this case is a classroom.

"It's really important for them to understand how to respect Latino cultural nuances and the things that are important to Latinos."

'Amistades' or friendships in english, is a non-profit group specialized in cultural development, organized this training program.

What they're developing now, they said, is a connection between new officers on the force and the Latino community in Tucson.

"It's not a 'we' or 'us versus them' and that we can really work together as a community," Jasso said.

KGUN9's cameras were allowed in for the first half hour of their training.

Topics ranged from the history between Mexico and the United States to stereotypes of different cultures.

One could observe hesitancy among the ranks of recruits, not an obstacle, Jasso said, who is Chief Development Officer at 'Amistades.'

"It's not that they don't want to understand and that they're resistant, they're really in a place where they're learning."

She said the course involves much more than just what we saw and these future officers usually get more involved as it progresses.

"I think that there's a lot going on in their minds, it's a lot of information to process and it's not always the most comfortable thing to talk about."

This class of recruits, some from other agencies, are just the second to take the course.

Tucson Police said the course started after two in-custody deaths in 2020 and will be part of their overall training.

Jasso said it won't solve every issue at once.

"There's never something that is a silver bullet. It's really part of having discussions and seeing what works and doesn't work."

This class of TPD recruits will put their lessons on the beat after they graduate in July.