Montgomery police highlight new training class

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - On target, long overdue. That's how Corporal G.L. Dixon describes the new curriculum at the Montgomery Police Academy.

"I'm proud to wear this badge," said Dixon.

The new course load is called 'Policing in a Historic City; Civil Rights and Wrongs.' The idea is for recruits and seasoned officers to learn more about the city's history which includes some very ugly chapters between the police department and its citizens.

"We start decades ago with some pretty graphic situations, death and mutilations. We're not holding anything back," said Chief Kevin Murphy.

"The Whitehurst case in the 1970s. The Todd Road Incident in the 1980s, and the second shift debacle in 2002," said Director of Public Safety Chris Murphy.

Three well-known cases that involved police misconduct and that doesn't even begin to include the civil rights era and before.

"Back in 1949 one woman was raped at gunpoint by two uniformed Montgomery police officers," said Dixon.

By confronting the past and all its consequences ranging from resignations to trials, city leaders hope this will give police a better perspective of what shaped Montgomery to a large degree.

"The chief goal is to have the best officer on the street, improve our dialogue and our understanding with the citizens," said Chris Murphy.

"This gives us the sensitivity we need to have a better police force,"said Mayor Todd Strange.

Working in conjunction with Troy University and the Rosa Parks Museum, the course includes studying laws, court cases and tours at the museum.

The course has already been taught twice this summer at the academy but this is the first time there's been a partnership with Troy University and the museum.

Corporal J.D. Jordin is the author of the new curriculum.

"I feel other officers will gain from this," said Jordin.

By going back in time, the Montgomery Police Department believes it will take a step forward with a greater understanding of what it really means to serve and protect.