PADUCAH, Ky. — The Paducah Police Department teamed up with professors at Murray State University to undergo training focused on cultural awareness and interactions with diverse communities.

Seven Paducah police officers completed the Cultural Leadership Academy at MSU last week. The educational pilot program spotlights the need for racial and cultural sensitivity training, The Paducah Sun reported ( ).

Beginning last year, Paducah police joined two assistant professors at MSU to create the program. One session was held in April and another in September, covering topics including diverse communities, community interactions, among others.

According to Assistant Police Chief Brian Krueger, the program is about developing an understanding of diverse communities and cultivating awareness of how beliefs and perceptions can affect daily interactions.

“There were a lot of takeaways for me personally,” Krueger said. “One in particular was the concept of cultural encapsulation, and how you can become so ingrained in your norms, you don’t think you’re biased in a particular way — it’s almost a subconscious bias.”

Professor Teresa Clark, one of program’s instructors, said although no specific plans have been made yet, they do want to continue the program, adding that other law enforcement agencies have expressed interest in participating.

“This was an incredibly rewarding experience,” Clark said. “The officers were just fantastic. They were very willing to have those difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations and were very open to learning about various cultures and perceptions.”

Information from: The Paducah Sun,