‘Zero tolerance’ for racial bias, prejudice at Harrison Co. law enforcement academy

Updated: Jun. 11, 2020 at 2:52 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - National outrage over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis has sparked renewed calls for police reform. Many are calling attention to police training practices.

At the Harrison County Law Enforcement Training Academy, 35 cadets are currently training to be the future officers who will be on our streets.

Right now, they’re in the second week of an 11-week training. The training is not only a test of physical endurance and mental prowess; it’s also a test of character.

Director of training Maj. Louis Elias said there’s zero tolerance for racial bias and prejudice at this academy.

“Do I think that there are signs that we look for in individuals that come to our program that would indicate that they’re harboring some type of prejudice? Absolutely. And have there been people removed from this program that have displayed those characteristics? Absolutely," Elias said.

That philosophy has become even more important in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Police training is now under a microscope, specifically when it comes to the use of force.

Elias said recruits receive thorough and extensive training.

“When it comes to defensive tactics, use of force, we tap into the resources of our local FBI office and ask for experts in the field to come in and teach the cadets using lifelike scenarios,” he said.

He said certain controversial tactics like chokeholds are not taught.

“As far as from a training standpoint, I think that as long as we continue on the road that we are on locally, I can’t speak nationally, but I really feel like we have some great men and women out there,” Elias said.

He said now there’s a larger responsibility upon the academy to produce those great men and women.

“There’s not a moment goes by that I don’t stop and think that I don’t want to see a failure where the finger of blame is pointed upon their initial training," Elias said.

Elias also said he’s thankful for the harmony between police, the community and local media on the Coast.

“I feel like we are so fortunate here, that we live in the community that we live in. We wake up and get to experience the peace and the harmony that we have here," he said.

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