December - 1997
Vol# 13 - Issue# 11
Multicultural Awareness Training Structure with Arizona Police Recruits
-Stephen M. Hennessy, Ed. D.
The challenge for law enforcement and cultural awareness worldwide, more unique than in any other profession because of the power held by police, creates a special need for understanding a pluralistic, multicultural society. The very success of the many facets of community based policing is dependent on this understanding. The concern for understanding the importance of culture and the role that police play is not new, particularly in the United States. In fact negative attitudes by police officers regarding race and culture were noted by police researchers in the early 1900's (Simon, 1929, Jordan, 1972, Walker, 1980, Suthen, 1987).
Cultural awareness training and attempts to educate police officers to be more sensitive to different ethnic groups, races, and lifestyles began to proliferate in the mid 1960's and early 1970's during and after the strong emphasis on civil rights, particularly for those rights long denied African-American citizens. The usual setting for this training, in the form of a panel discussion, was typically marked by a strident and emotional challenge to participants which could, and often did, result in deep anger and resentment on the part of the participants (Work, 1989). This interest in cultural awareness and sensitivity training intensified after the Rodney King assault in Los Angeles in the early 1990's. Because of the nature of the power law enforcement officers possess, it becomes critical they understand the changing community. However, many new officers' perceptions of police work are often influenced by the myriad of police shows on television and motion pictures with a strong enforcement theme which tends to glorify action-oriented policing and "an us against them" mentality (Hennessy, 1993).
In this media environment, little importance to interpersonal communication and cultural awareness is emphasized. Coupled with this action-oriented view of policing, police training academies struggle with countless important and critical performance objectives competing with each other for the limited time officers train to become minimally competent. Subjects oriented to maintaining officer safety, firearms, arrest tactics, and other tactical issues usually win out over "softer" subjects such as cultural awareness and communication issues.
The Design of the Multicultural Curriculum
The new design of a multicultural curriculum module was approached with an analysis of the nature and learning styles of the law enforcement profession being impacted. It is based on predominant cognitive functions as theorized by Carl Jung (1974) and measured by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the recently developed Law Enforcement Type Sorter (LETS). Jung believed people differ according to basic psychological functions.
He described functions as a form of psychic activity that remains the same in principle under varying conditions (Jung, 1974, pp.436-467). Jung understood two functions of Sensing and Intuition as perceiving functions. The Sensation type prefers perception directly observed and interpreted through the five senses. The Intuitive type prefers to go beyond the basic information and look for meanings and potentials. The decision making dichotomy reflects two different ways of judging. The Thinking type prefers to decide through impersonal or logical analysis in contrast to Feeling types who prefer to consider affiliation, warmth, and a connection to individuals, not things (Thompson and Borrello, 1986).
An individual's preference in using these functions can be measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Approximately 300 studies of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are cited by Buros (1965, 1978) and over 1,500 studies are included in the latest edition of the Myers-Briggs Manual (Myers and McCaulley, 1985). Its indices of reliability and validity have been extensively investigated and have been judged acceptable (Murray, 1990). The Law Enforcement Type Sorter, under development by Leadership Inc., of Scottsdale, Arizona is presently being normed through test results compared with those of the MBTI. Preliminary results reflect a strong positive correlation with MBTI results compared with individual test takers as well as comparing group results with known group sample results.
Research into cognitive styles of law enforcement officers according to Jungian typology began in the mid 1970's with Wayne B. Hanewitz from Michigan State University (1978). His research indicated that the majority of police officers preferred to perceive information realistically and concretely as Sensors (S) and make decisions using the impersonal and objective analysis of the Thinking (T) function. Subsequent research by Henson 1984, Cacioppe and Mock, 1985, Lynch, 1988, and Hennessy, 1991, reflected the same conclusion that a minimum of 70 percent of any given veteran population from a law enforcement group as well as students studying to be police officers, are ST's. Recent research reflects a sample of 407 police recruits with ST preferences being at least 76.9 percent (Hennessy, 1997). Additional samples of recruit and veteran police populations, using the MBTI and LETS, from Canada, Australia, The Republic of Singapore, Colombia, South America, Mexico, and reflect the same general distribution of types ( Hennessy, 1997).
Police officers have often been described as concrete, decisive, direct, cold, condescending, matter-of-fact, impersonal, pragmatic, and logical. These are descriptors usually attributed to those having a ST preference. They are not likely to be convinced by anything but reasoning based on solid facts. They are seldom wrong with the facts as they see them, are sequential and enjoy working under an established, structured plan (Hennessy, 1995). In analyzing learning styles, ST's focus on the realities of a situation. They are fact and detail-oriented with a great capacity for seeing the world as it really is. Sensors usually like concrete things they can see, touch, and handle with practical experience (Wilkins, 1996). Sensors learn best when given a clear, objective rationale and like giving and receiving critical analysis (Myers, 1980).
In view of this ST orientation of the majority of both recruit and veteran police officer populations, the cultural awareness courses should be designed with a pragmatic rationale emphasizing the realities of pol
As the world shrinks and becomes more multicultural, developing the most effective method to train and educate individuals in law enforcement as to understanding a changing cultural perspective of the citizens they serve will become more critical.
1 The course authors choose not to use the term "cultural diversity" due to a perceived negative connotation to the term and its use in past law enforcement training. The authors felt the term "cultural awareness" was considered more appropriate and positive in that the course rationale and objective was that of "being aware of other cultural communication patterns will help them perform better in their profession."