Rapid City Police Department working to adapt “Trauma Informed Policing”
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Rapid City Police Department says it’s working on training its staff on “Trauma Informed Policing” as part of an initiative to improve the Department’s relationship with the Native American community.
The training is a component of the RCPD’s Collective Healing Demonstration Site Initiative (CHDSI).
In 2018, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Victims of Crime, provided grants to five separate areas where community and police tensions are high.
The grants were highly competitive, and the Rapid City Police Department was chosen in part because of its efforts to connect with local community-based organizations that provide mental health and victim services.
A large part of the CHDSI initiative is training officers on the traumatic reality that Native Americans have endured for generations.
According to Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris, “Rapid City officers face generationally-transmitted cultural distrust of the government and racial tension attributed to historic incidents, such as the Wounded Knee Massacre, and unresolved treaty issues. Part of our trauma informed policing strategy is an acknowledgement of the historical truths, and understanding of how this historical trauma impacts police and public interactions.”
The Department has teamed up with Dr. Craig Howe of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS) to help understand how historical trauma plays into the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
Dr. Howe is a renowned scholar on Native American studies and works with different organizations and schools to help develop cultural awareness and understanding.
Jegeris says the ultimate goal of the initiative is to not only ease police-community tensions, but also to help protect Native American community members from crime and victimization.
“Our hope is to improve community relations by taking time to understand some of root causes of current anger and distrust, so we can better serve our community, and ultimately reduce the higher degree victimization of women and children that occurs within the Native American community.”
Native Americans represent a disproportionately high number of crime victims in the Rapid City area. Additionally, Native American women are almost twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime than white females.
Jegeris says the ultimate goal of the initiative is to make sure the entire Rapid City police force is privy to the history of the community, “Our next large step towards our trauma informed policing strategy is a trauma informed and historical trauma training to every sworn officer in our Department.”