November, 6-8, 2019, ADL staff and Holocaust Museum educators from St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Florida and Washington, DC met at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to mark the 20th anniversary of presenting Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust. Dubbed “LEAS” here in the Heartland, the program has been a superb partnership of ADL, the St. Louis Holocaust Museum, and more than 60 municipal police and sheriffs departments, along with the St. Louis City and St. Louis County Police Academies. Through Academy classes and monthly open enrollment sessions for veterans, LEAS engages roughly 400 officers annually. The goal is to provide police professionals with a deeper understanding of the relationship between police and the people they serve and of their role as defenders of the Constitution and protectors of individual rights. By examining the Holocaust, officers gain insights into the critical importance of their profession’s core values, as well as the significant and unique role they play within our democracy. With the urgent need to improve police/community relationships, and increasing diversity in the region, this is a truly important program and an important opportunity to raise up the value of Holocaust education in the process.
In June, 1998, then Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), asked ADL and the USHMM staff in DC to design a training for police recruits that would incorporate a visit to the Museum and a facilitated discussion of the implications of the Holocaust for modern day law enforcement professionals. The initial training model was presented to the MPD command staff in January 1999. The training of recruits began shortly afterward. St. Louis and Houston were part of an expansion program funded by the Community Oriented Policing Services office of the Department of Justice in 2004. Other cities have entered the program since 2012. An estimated 140,000 officers have experienced the program since its onset, most in DC which runs programs almost daily. LEAS is a required part of training for all FBI New Agents and Intelligence Analysts, as well as for recruits, veteran officers and commanders in each region participating. St. Louis began working with St. Louis Metropolitan Police initially in April 2005. Departments from as far as Cape Girardeau and St. Genevieve send officers to the open enrollment session. LEAS is a 4 hour program that starts with an examination of the history of the 1920s and the end of WWI until the time Hitler comes to power. Through a guided tour of the permanent collection of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum, participants dig deeper into the history. A facilitated discussion follows exploring the changing role of police under the Nazis. A Museum historian leads a discussion on how German police were transformed between 1933 and 1945 from neutral professionals into active participants in genocide. Led by an ADL staffer, officers next consider the contemporary relevants. Participants examine their relationship to those they serve, the checks and balances that prevent abuse and, ultimately, of the core values of law enforcement and their connection to the nation. LEAS provides participants with an understanding of the meaning and importance to our democracy of their dedication and sacrifice as members of the value-driven profession of law enforcement.
For more information about LEAS, please contact Megan Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.