Meet Dr. Tracie Keesee, the woman heading up NYPD training

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A.J. Ross reporting

The NYPD is engaged in a program to strengthen the relationships between community and police, and leading that progressive agenda is a pioneer herself. Dr. Tracie Keesee is the first black woman in decades to head up training for the department.

Dr. Keese is the NYPD's new Deputy Commissioner of Training, and behind the proverbial blue wall and NYPD shield is an intricate and dynamic police training curriculum under her leadership.

"I think that by having me here and having the background, I think I bring a little bit of that outsider insider view," Dr. Keesee said.

With 27 years in law enforcement and a deep devotion to bridging the gap between police and the communities they serve, Keesee is aiming to bring more balance, accountability, and perspective to the ranks with the assistance of new technology and research.

"What I don't want folks to think, that training is your answer to everything because it is not," Keesee said. "You have to have the right person, that person not only has to have the right training, they have to have the right supervision and guidance, all of those things have to be in play."

"Protect and serve" are three simple words encompassing a complex burden of responsibility.

The NYPD and police departments across the country are still grappling with in the face of recent high profile excessive force cases such as Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner and Akai Gurley.

"It's not just about bridging the gap, it's about understanding historical experiences of communities and what we're talking about specifically are communities of color," Keesee said. "How does their upbringing, their socialization, how does that impact how they believe they should be policed, or how they believe they should interact with you?"

Inside the state of the art facility in Queens, procedures are re-enacted as real life scenarios. Recruits can not only learn how to better engage with the public, but where the fine line between implicit or unconscious bias stands.

"We're talking about issues that are very uncomfortable for not just police officers but for society in general," Keesee said. "One of the concerns officers have and the fears they have, is that of being called a racist, that's a reality, it works into their everyday thought in how they approach and how they interact, the one thing we are not going to be doing here is exacerbating that."

Reflecting on the past year in her new role as deputy commissioner of training, Keesee says some of these techniques and initiatives are just a baseline for more progressive programs to come.

"Coming here allows me to not just take what I've learned, but to actually push things further," Keesee said. "We know we do an excellent job, the question is do we know that it's effective, that is something that very few departments ask, but it's something that the community asks of us."

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