MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Community Board on Police was updated about the breadth of training the Maplewood Police Department receives during its July 1 online meeting.
“Well trained officers are confident officers. A lot of times, I think situations will become diffused if the officer is very knowledgeable about what they can do, should do, and they’re familiar with the department expectations,” said Captain Niheema Malloy. A combination of formal and informal training is provided.
The informal training happens on a regular basis, before officers set out on patrol for the day. “We may have a short meeting, like 20 minutes, to discuss one small topic… For example, [recently] we had a conversation on fireworks, just to refresh them on the new regulations” and how the department wants the officers to approach the topic with residents.
Malloy has been in charge of training since Jan. 1 of this year, having been with the MPD for 14 years. When she took on the responsibilities, she asked the officers what they felt they needed the most assistance with. And in planning what training is offered, she also balances the needs of the department, she said.
To round out standard police training, “we sent people to grant writing classes, Title 39 which is traffic law, [and] accident reconstruction,” in addition to COVID-19 training in early March, Malloy said.
Malloy is hoping that training facilities and academies will reopen soon. Her understanding is that the target date for that is October. To prepare officers further, she said, “I like the idea of non-police instructors instructing things.” When topics such as stress management, conflict resolution, and workplace harassment are taught in “a non-police way,” she said, “ I think that helps officers get the full scope” of a topic. “It would also be beneficial to the department.”
Board chair Erin Scherzer recommended for future training the topic of “duty to intervene, not just in force situations, but even situations before you get to force. Which is, [in] Maplewood, most of the cases.” Addressing demeanor concerns and having de-escalation training would benefit those situations, she said.
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