Reinventing Law Enforcement – Campus Connection


Job 8am Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022

A course taught by UW-La Crosse associate professor Peter Marina and his father, longtime New Orleans police officer Pedro Marina, is designed to teach law enforcement about upholding the human rights of each person.

UW-La Crosse Human Rights Policing Course to Develop Compassion Between Officers

When Wisconsin Capitol Police Officer Andrew Hyatt crosses paths with a homeless man, he sees no one who is a problem.

He sees a person who has a story.

“Maybe some police officers have a habit of looking the other way when it comes to a problem that may be difficult to deal with, like a homeless person who needs resources, medical attention and all kinds of things,” Hyatt says. “For me, storytelling is something that I really promote with my colleagues: asking people how they ended up homeless or in prison, where they came from, what their family was like, where they had gone I think it gives them a new perspective and helps humanize us (as police officers), and certainly hearing their stories humanizes them for me.

Hyatt has always tried to take this approach to his policing work, but it wasn’t until he took a human rights policing course led by UW-La Crosse Associate Professor Peter Marina that he really sank.

The course, which Marina co-teaches with her father, Pedro Marina, a longtime New Orleans police officer, addresses systemic issues in policing by training law enforcement to uphold human rights. of each person. These include the right to life, liberty and security of person; and protection from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

“Human rights are a relatively new concept in human civilization and, upon closer examination, a radical concept,” explains Peter Marina. “Unfortunately, human rights are just that, a concept rarely practiced in the world. This human rights policing course teaches police officers and criminal justice professionals how to apply human rights to their interactions with community members in the course of their policing. I believe that human rights policing can be a harbinger of social change in a world that desperately needs it.

In creating the course, Marina combined human rights values ​​with her knowledge and first-hand observations of law enforcement. He participated in dozens of rides with the police, at all hours of the day.

Working with police officers in the classroom — this is Marina’s third year offering the course — has also provided a lot of valuable insight.

Marina’s time researching for the course and interacting with law enforcement officers inspired her new book, “Human Rights Policing: Reimagining Law Enforcement in the 21st Century,” which will be released in August.

The book explores Marina’s intellectual pursuits, her policing research, and her general experiences teaching law enforcement to embrace human rights policing in the communities they serve.

“Working closely with police officers provides a unique insight into the world of law enforcement and the lives of police officers,” says Marina. “My research with police officers and my experiences teaching them about human rights have been important avenues for writing what I hope. to be a book that inspires us on a path where human rights can become a reality in policing, and perhaps, in the world.”

The course offers both research-based and experiential perspectives on human rights policing and challenges participants to reflect on their law enforcement experiences. The missions are designed so that participants can integrate human rights policing into their daily work.

Those who have taken the course say they gained a better perspective of police work, as well as a better understanding of why some communities historically distrust law enforcement.

“I liked being exposed to more information that I wouldn’t necessarily have researched and read,” said one participant. “As someone fairly new to this professional field, I think it’s important to be immersed in as much information and different options as possible. This will make me a better correctional officer and a better person in general. .

“It helped me to think about contacts with the police from the point of view of the subject,” added another participant. “I tried to understand what the subject may be experiencing and to use empathy to understand what they may be feeling during contact.”

For Hyatt, the insights he gained from the course led to more meaningful and productive encounters with people he meets around the Capitol. It’s the best way to build trust, he says — one positive interaction after another.

“We have the ability to use our human agency to make a difference, to help that person, to change the culture within our agency and set a new tone,” he says. “It’s not an outlier that we want to help people. It is something we can and should do.

Take the course

UWL Graduated & Extended Learning is offering the Human Rights Policing course twice over the next few months: April 4-May 13 and June 20-July 29. To learn more or to register, visit

About UWL Graduate & Extended Learning

Graduate & Extended Learning connects the university to the community by providing innovative educational opportunities including degree programs, professional development, youth programs, conference and event services, and test preparation.

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