Cliff Biggers hopes his Licking County Law Enforcement Diversity Training Program will help people improve and give more.
Biggers served as a detective with the Newark Police Division until his retirement in 2010. He also served on the Coshocton City Council, pastored the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Coshocton and led the Division of chaplains of the Licking County Attorney’s Office until his retirement.
According to Biggers, he created the diversity training program a few years before his retirement at the request of the police chief.
“Diversity has always been an issue. People have different views on what they think diversity is. It just means difference,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that our police officers were at least aware of the cultural diversity and the different diversities that we deal with on a regular basis.”
In addition to Newark Police, Biggers said he has introduced the program to other law enforcement agencies, primarily in Licking County, including Heath, Granville and Pataskala.
Biggers’ program kicks off with a board game he created in the late 1990s called Table of Humanity. He explained that it’s a way to break the ice before getting into a subject that can be uncomfortable.
“I use a board game to get people talking. People don’t talk about diversity because they’re afraid someone will think something bad of them if they don’t respond the way they feel” , he said, noting the game has cards with questions and discussion prompts. “It breaks down barriers and breaks down the rigidity of what people feel when they talk about diversity. When you say diversity, people tense up. Because they think it’s about color. And it’s not It’s not. That’s part of it, but it’s about the difference. And we’re all different.
Biggers estimates that more than 10,000 people have played at the Diversity Table. Even recently, he said he continues to revise the program, trying to find other things he could do to encourage conversations about what people think or feel.
Heath Police Chief Dave Haren said he went through Biggers’ training program during his time with Newark Police. He was unsure when Biggers last presented the program to Heath, but noted that their agency held diversity training on different topics each year.
Haren said Biggers brings a different perspective to his program, speaking as a police officer and an individual. He noted that Biggers had been the only black officer in the Newark Police Division for a long time.
“As he explains things, it allows you to look at yourself and other people (and say) ‘I see some of that and it has merit. I should be aware of those factors and how we approach things,’” Haren said.
Haren said diversity training is important for law enforcement because it helps them understand perspectives so they don’t have personal biases. He added that it helps them be aware of other people’s points of view and how the agent presents themselves, as well as helping agents be more professional and attuned to others’ concerns.
Granville Police Chief Bill Caskey said he never went through Biggers’ training program, but that diversity training is still beneficial for law enforcement.
“It was intended to expose officers to different cultures and cultural values and to give them the opportunity to see events from a perspective other than their own,” he said. “This type of training is always beneficial, as it broadens officers’ perspectives and makes them more open to values they may not have been aware of before.”
Biggers said he hoped the diversity training program would have left an impact on those who attended.
“I hope it helps people become a community. When you wear blue, you are still part of the community. I hope people can become more, receive more, and give more,” he said. declared. “As you become more – more tolerant, more caring, more sharing – you receive more. And why do I receive it? So that I can go and dig a hole to put it in? when I sharing with someone… i get more because i have become more.”
Biggers is currently revising the diversity training program. Anyone wishing to contact him about the program can reach him by email at [email protected]