Morse said the program, held last month, was similar to the training program all BCPD patrol officers have gone through over the past two years. It was intended to sensitize security officers to how some of their actions may be perceived by students of color on the Boston College campus.
Morse said he realized the need for such a program at a campus-wide town meeting in October, when several AHANA students criticized the actions of some BC security officers. They felt the security officers were racially motivated when checking the identification of students entering the residence halls.
"As police officers, we should have mandatory training in diversity because it is such an important area for us," Morse said, adding that Lt. Margaret Connolly organized the training session.
Boston Police Department Deputy Superintendent William Johnson, who heads hate crimes investigations in Boston and who regularly addresses national audiences on the topic, spoke to the security officers about his experiences and presented a videotape. Morse said the compelling presentation was followed by small group discussions, led by 15 campus administrators, that focused on how security officers' actions, however intended, may be perceived.
"He's developed a program to rattle the head and make you think about that action you do not feel is racist, but which can be perceived as racist," Morse said. "It requires you to learn about your own built-in prejudices, how to get beyond them and act in a way that is acceptable on the Boston College campus."
The program was particularly appropriate for security officers, Morse said. "Our security officers are all part-time employees who come from diverse backgrounds. They are our first line. Most students come in contact with security officers long before they come in contact with our patrol officers."
Morse indicated he was pleased with the officers' reaction to the program. "I was impressed with the responses and the officers' openness. Many indicated that the presentation made a personal impression on them."
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