Tanenbaum Center Aids Police Understanding of Religious Customs

July 10, 2006

Source: Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding


The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding reported, "In the course of our cutting-edge work in religious diversity and the workplace, the Tanenbaum Center has identified industries in which religious issues are often central to outcomes.

In law enforcement, for example, it is critical for police officers responsible for community affairs to understand the religious, ethnic and cultural differences of local residents so that they can work effectively with the community and help to de-escalate potentially explosive situations. Likewise, police on the streets, new recruits and those who lead them need to understand the religious practices of the diverse communities they serve, so that they can better conduct themselves in ways that respect different traditions.

In response to this need, the Tanenbaum Center has developed a new training curriculum for police. The program, which is both experiential and cognitive, includes information on the major religions, their practices and beliefs, and how they relate to law enforcement. During the course of the training, officers learn about the practice of taking one's shoes off before entering a mosque, that Sikhs are required to wear five holy items at all times (including a small dagger), and that some Hindus do not shake the hand of strangers, particularly members of the opposite sex.

In September 2002, the Tanenbaum Center began conducting religious diversity training for newly promoted Sergeants in the New York Police Department."