A class of nine graduates is set to get their diplomas from the first-ever police academy at an HBCU. Chief Gary Hill launched the academy at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri in response to calls for police reform.
“I started calling the contacts that I made over the last 20 years. People were like, ‘that is a great idea, why hasn’t anyone thought about that,” Hill told The Today Show’s Craig Melvin.
Hill told Melvin that while the curriculum being taught to Lincoln’s students is the same that is taught around the state, the class discussions on policing and race are different.
According to the report, two-thirds of large police departments are whiter than the communities they police. Hill believes Black officers have a unique position in serving majority Black communities.
“I think it’s a matter of learning how to talk to people,” one of the academy’s Black female cadets said. She’d join the academy in secret, but is hoping to become a role model or add representation to the police force in the future as a homicide detective.
The outlet reported that the academy has gained national recognition and received support from police departments from around the country, some donating gear to the program. This graduating class all have jobs lined up, and 13 more people have applied for the next class.
Chief Hill has also reportedly been invited to the White House to brief administration officials on the academy and potentially discuss bringing the program to scale. The graduates are entering the police force as lawmakers iron out police reform legislation amid the sentencing of former police officer Derek Chauvin.