PfISD Police train on race, tolerance

Aug. 26, 2021 

Pflugerville ISD police officers spent hours earlier this month in racial awareness training aimed at ensuring on-the-job professionalism regardless of situation.

The training, while new, centered on a topic that has been previously discussed, Pflugerville ISD Police Chief Patrick Petherbridge noted. The “Six Lessons to Racial Intelligence” training focuses on responding with empathy, sensitivity and understanding, often dealt with in crisis situations, he added.

“We may be involved in a crisis where it’s chaotic, and emotion controls the situation,” Petherbridge said. “So we must first calm everyone, calming yourself at the same time, find the root cause of the matter, and work for the given solution.” 

Austin ISD offered the “RITE” (Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement) program, and PfISD PD Officer Jonathan Gardner took the lead in offering it to our district, one of the most racially diverse in Texas. Initially pessimistic about the real-world benefits the training could provide, Gardner was quickly won over. 

“It’s a great resource they provided us,” said Gardner, an eighth-year law enforcement veteran with four years at Pflugerville ISD.

According to the RITE training, “Racial intelligence is the practice of using emotional intelligence, social intelligence and the RITE tools” to treat everyone fairly. Officers, often faced with crisis situations, are taught to gauge their emotional states so they act responsibly, even in the most trying times.

“It’s not just about race,” added Chief Petherbridge. “People don’t call 9-1-1 on their best days. Oftentimes, a traumatic event has occurred and emotions are very high. It’s about where we’re at emotionally when we respond to the situation, and where they are in their lives at that moment, and how we can work together to solve the problem.” 

Pflugerville ISD Police implemented the RITE training on Aug. 9.