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June 16, 2020, Lawrence, MA - Mayor Dan Rivera with Chief of Police, Roy Vasque, announce an investment of $600,000 toward Youth Empowerment, Employment, and Anti-Violence Opportunities as well as additional Police Training. In light of the recent negative national frustration around police brutality and the growing divide nationally between law enforcement and young people, the City will continue to prioritize and create empowerment, employment and anti-violence opportunities for our youth. Meanwhile committing to stay ahead of the curve in police trainings that focus on active listening, use of force, de-escalation and building trust with the community.
$300K of the investment will focus on empowering our City’s youth and creating a range of accessible opportunities to youth. “It has become clear that we need to invest more money and time into empowering our youth, their ideas and perspectives, as well as improving their interactions with our police department” says Mayor Daniel Rivera. “We want to focus on making sure we are creating space for youth to have a voice in addition to creating opportunities for positive experiences between our youth and the officers in our Department. The goal is to create mutual respect and collaboration to strengthen youth engagement, public safety, and overall relationships between law enforcement and our community’s youth.” These funds will come from a grant program run by the Lawrence Community Development Office through the CDBG process and with input from youth-serving organizations.
$300K will allow the Department to continue to provide its Officers with current, national standard training and education that will allow our police force to be in the forefront of community based, citizen-centric policing policies, and to take those policies to the next level. While the current administration has focused on encouraging and providing funding for additional police training, the proposed FY2021 Budget removed training funds from the Department’s budget in an effort to decrease spending without forcing a decrease in the number of Officers on the street.
In addition to standard trainings and certifications that are required annually for all departments, such as firearm certification and Dispatcher/911 trainings, the Officers of the Lawrence Police Department regularly participate in courses relating to topics like De-Escalation, Managing Implicit Bias in Policing, Diversity and Cultural Awareness, Procedural Justice as well as Policing in an Immigrant Community and Immigration Issues in the Community.
The Lawrence Police Department continues to be determined to gain the community’s trust and have a positive relationship with citizens. “Chief Vasque and I have both been committed to creating a Police Department that is responsive, responsible and community-based” said Mayor Rivera. “The Lawrence Police Department has been focused on community policing with the intention of creating real connections between the Officers and the citizens. The main priority is making Lawrence safer, this can only be done if the residents of Lawrence can trust the police department and its officers. We hope to continue to foster these relationships through positive interactions, which are dependent on targeted trainings.”
Along with more targeted trainings, the Department will continue to enforce its Use of Force Guidelines and the “No Choke” Policy. The Department’s formally adopted Policy and Procedures are reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that they are in line with the highest and best federal practices. These training reinforce those policies, including the most recent addition to the Policy and Procedures of the Department, An Officer’s Duty to Intervene.