Updated: Updated to clarify more specific training hours for officers

WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – Officers in the Wichita Police Department (WPD) will be undergoing two hours of diversity training with members of minority communities after racist and inappropriate text messages were sent out by members of the Department.

This is included in the 40 hours of mandatory diversity training each officer on the force has to undergo each year.

One WPD officer said having these talks are crucial.

“As a whole, our job and our goal is to build that relationship so that way we can give the community what they are needing, what they are desiring, what they are wanting,” said Wichita Police Officer Jordan Edison.

Officer Edison grew up in Wichita.

He says he uses his experiences and perception of police to help connect with the community, but that it is also community leaders that have to help unite minorities with police.

“We have to take a step. If we sit back and do nothing, what we have gotten is what we are going to continue to get,” said Pastor Odell Harris Jr.

Pastor Harris spoke to officers. He said many families raise their kids to fear the police, and that perception has to change.

“I hope that it goes from being us, and them, to just being us. We need to bridge the gap, and tear down those walls, and to build strong relationships, and in order for us to help the next generation,” Pastor Harris said.

Leaders of the Hispanic community shared why they think there is such a fear of the police. They say it stems from citizenship and police corruption in some of their native countries.

“I think they learned from us and got to understand our heritage, who we are, the things and struggles that we go through as a people and what we would like to see,” said Angel Martinez, the founder of Love Your Community.

Both groups recommended officers make positive connections when out in the community with the youth, such as offering to buy them a pizza or just picking up a basketball game with them. Leaders hope this will change kids’ ideas of officers.