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Orange Co. provides Racial Intelligence Training for all law enforcement and firefighter agencies in county

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Included in the training is implicit bias, diversity and inclusion, de-escalation communication, police misconduct, understanding harassment, ethics and more

From the Orange County Newsroom

These are tense times for many who wear a badge. In an effort to equip its public safety personnel with the emotional and social intelligence tools needed to better serve our diverse and inclusive community, Orange County funded RITE Academy training for all Orange County-based public safety agencies.

Chief executives from law enforcement, correctional and firefighting agencies recently attended a joint training in order to achieve a consistent response while interacting with the public.

Apopka Police Chief Michael McKinley and Captain Jerome Miller

"I found the course to be personally enlightening," said McKinley. "The focus of the class was to have the participants look at their own emotional and social intelligence in order to be able to treat themselves and others fairly. The participants received tools to help them identify where they were emotionally and socially each day. Knowing where you are emotionally and socially helps you identify how you could potentially treat others at work and at home. Our own emotions play a big role in how we treat others and when we realize this we can change the way we approach our interaction with others. I believe this is extremely important in law enforcement as we interact with each other and our community. I took away a lot from the course and already use what I learned, to assess and improve my own emotional and social intelligence every morning before I start my day."

McKinley also said that APD Sergeant Barry Brown also attended a two-day "train the trainer" course and will be teaching it to all members of the APD the first part of next year.

“I am extremely pleased that Orange County provided this training to all the public safety agencies in the County,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, who previously served as Orange County Sheriff and served for nearly 40 years in public safety. “Awareness is the key to recognizing and changing what is needed. This training enables our public safety personnel to do just that as well as have better relationships with each other and the community we serve.”

RITE Academy attendees

Included in RITE Academy training, which took place at the Valencia Criminal Justice Institute, is implicit bias, performance leadership, diversity and inclusion, de-escalation communication, police misconduct, understanding harassment, professional development, and ethics. The algorithm for this training is EI (Emotional Intelligence) + SI (Social Intelligence) = RI (Racial Intelligence).

Training attendees all had positive feedback from the training, including Deputy Chief of Orange County Corrections Anthony Watts, Sr.

“RITE takes a novel approach of emphasizing the foundation of emotional intelligence,” said Watts. “Both the public and public safety personnel are first and foremost human beings. We may be of different races, ethnic backgrounds and gender, but one common thread is we all have emotions. The training stressed that some adverse encounters are the result of not properly recognizing, managing and responding to your emotions or the emotions of others. That is why it is so important to be aware of them and how to manage them.”

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of the emotions we feel in the moment. These emotions drive behavior that can impact others in either a positive or negative way.

Wattes explained that the training equips attendees with tools to address where they may be on the emotional ladder (RITE tool) so they can deal with it prior to going to the next call or having the next interaction with a citizen or co-worker.

Danny Banks, Orange County’s Public Safety Director, believes this training ultimately benefits the entire community. “We want our public servants to be the best servants for the community and show our residents and guests they’re the best in the nation,” he asserted. “We also want to have a collective approach to public service, with our personnel being trained excessively, uniquely and consistently.”

Leaders within the County’s public service agencies including fire chiefs, police chiefs and the Sheriff’s Office, took part in the two-day training session. The intent is for the leaders to pass the knowledge on to their departments and ensure every sworn safety officer has this important skill set.

Orange County used Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program dollars to fund the training.

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