Windsor PD to undergo implicit bias training

Published 8:19 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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Officials in Windsor are hoping additional training of its police force will help the town avoid future situations like the one last December where two officers held Army lieutenant Caron Nazario at gunpoint and pepper-sprayed him.

According to a memorandum from Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle, all Windsor police officers must, by April 30, complete a four-hour online course on implicit bias — the idea that people can act on prejudices without intending to do so.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police developed the training, which is available to all Virginia law enforcement officers free of charge. Command Presence, a Georgia-based training company, has also agreed to come to Windsor May 26 and 27 to train the department on de-escalation strategies — also at no cost save for travel expenses, which the department hopes to cover by inviting other law enforcement agencies to participate for a fee.

The chief is also proposing to revamp the department’s hiring panel to one composed of two Windsor police officers, two town residents and one member of Town Council. Previously, the entire department of seven officers served as the interview panel for prospective hires.

On April 20, Windsor’s Town Council held the first of its promised weekly community engagement work sessions. There, Riddle briefed the council on his plans, and two other reforms he’s considering, which — if approved — will cost town tax dollars.

The first involves revamping the police department’s policies and procedures. To do this, Riddle proposes contracting with Lexipol LLC, a Texas company founded by public safety experts that helps law enforcement departments check their policies against the latest changes to state and federal law.

Currently, it’s a very tedious process, Riddle said — one which to date has involved his calling other chiefs and asking what their policies are.

“It’s a struggle when you have a small staff and a very limited budget,” he said.

And those policies are often written for much larger departments than Windsor.

“Each agency is very specific, and they work to what the needs are in their communities,” Riddle said.

Funding the proposal would involve appropriating $25,748.79 from the town’s unallocated fund balance, but the council took no action on the matter that evening.

Riddle also proposes the town invest in speed measurement devices to place along Route 460, which wouldn’t replace the need for officers to pull people over but could decrease the number of officer-motorist encounters. The chief’s memo doesn’t list a price for these devices.

“The town has a reputation as a speed trap,” Riddle acknowledged, but said he’s “never seen any bias” in how his officers enforce Route 460’s 35 mile-per-hour limit through town.