Lake Charles Police officers, along with representatives from other local agencies, took part in a two-part training session this week that sought to prevent unnecessary arrests of minority youths and addresses existing racial bias.
The LCPD was one of four departments nationwide chosen to take part in The Center for Children's Law and Policy Enforcement Leadership for Equity Initiative.
Police Chief Shawn Caldwell said on Thursday that the training — which focuses on improving existing policies — is another tool to help law enforcement and provide more resources to keep juveniles away from crime.
"We have several programs here in Lake Charles that address some of our youths and issues with them," he said.
Capt. Kevin Kirkum said the training teaches officers "how to control their different biases."
"Really, it's all about officers learning to get to know people that don't look like them," he said.
Arrest numbers compiled over the years drew some concern within the department, Kirkum said.
"We were not comfortable within all of the numbers how they were reported, as far as those minorities being arrested versus those that are non-minorities," he said. "Everything that we do concerning our youth is going to reflect what happens to us in the future. So, the sooner we start, the better off we'll be."
Kirkum said the training also mentions alternatives to arresting juvenile offenders. He said youths who end up in jail typically have a higher recidivism rate than others who are given diversion methods.
"Every child does not deserve to go to jail," he said. "These children need services."
Along with the training, the LCPD will get $10,000 to pay for improving partnerships within minority communities.
The Center for Children's Law and Policy worked with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Other agencies that took part in the training included the Calcasieu Parish Office of Juvenile Justice, Ward 3 Marshal's Office, Family and Youth Counseling Agency and the Department of Children and Family Services.