Officers Get Training in Diversity

The crowds that come for this year's Black Spring Break will see more police officers on the street than last year. In a cultural diversity class held at the Gulfport Police Department, Baton Rouge Officer Jeff LeDuff says instead of fearing the event, officers should use it to be sensitive and as a public relations opportunity.

"We have an opportunity to show that law enforcement can handle these types of events and make a positive thing out of it," Officer LeDuff said. "We don't have to fear this. There's a plan in place; stick with the plan, and remember you're a criminal justice professional."

LeDuff says that means any negative thoughts and preconceived notions about the young people should be left at home.

"We're here to say that you can't show differences. You have to leave your personality at home and remain inside your personna. All we're here to do is to reassure people, these officers, that their true personna is that of a criminal justice professional."

Gulfport Officer Sonny Wehrman says keeping a handle on the crowds will be challenging.

"Well, it's crowd control, but not over-reacting. Then of course there are going to be times not to underreact also but to just be professional law enforcement officers and to deal with anything that we see in a professional way," Officer Wehrman said.

LeDuff stresses that a huge event like Black Spring Break is a great learning experience, one that officers can use to their advantage when it come to planning for the next big party.

LeDuff speaks from experience.  His department's officers work with huge crowds from two univerisities located in Baton Rouge.