UTM campus police attend diversity training

MARTIN, Tenn. — University of Tennessee at Martin campus police are continuing their education, this time in diversity.

“The things that have reached out to me so far is understanding the diverse cultures we face in law enforcement and how to deal with them appropriately,” said Monte Belew, UT Martin campus police chief.

These training sessions are being held at all University of Tennessee schools, as initiated by UT President Randy Boyd.

Former Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper Derek Stewart is teaching the class.

“What we’re trying to do is help them unpack what they know, and what they don’t know,” Stewart said. “Those things they do know, where did they learn it from? Was it based upon a single exposure, a single bad experience, or was it multiple experiences that helped generate their knowledge base?”

Belew says because UT Martin is a state school, they have students of all backgrounds on campus, and they want to make sure all students feel welcome.

“It’s very important and critical to our agency to comprehend, respect, and understand types of cultures that attend here at The University of Tennessee at Martin, and welcome them with open arms,” Belew said.

And the difficult conversations that come in this training will help make everyone’s experience with law enforcement easier.

“Racial anxiety exists, and we’re teaching them how to recognize it and how to deal with it going forward,” Stewart said.

Officers who complete the training will receive a certificate.

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