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Taxpayers foot $700,000 bill to train cops in DEI at U. Illinois Springfield

‘A $700,000 federal grant to fight phantom police racism is an unconscionable waste of taxpayer resources,’ scholar says

The University of Illinois Springfield recently received a nearly $700,000 federal grant to conduct diversity and anti-bias training for law enforcement officers.

The grant of $699,100 was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice with support from the longtime and influential U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat.

The university’s Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning, which described itself as focused on “frontline” training that addresses “physiological needs, safety needs, love and acceptance, esteem building and resiliency, and self-actualization,” will oversee the training.

“This investment will help law enforcement better understand and empathize with individuals from diverse backgrounds, identify and address biases, and navigate traumatic experiences, ultimately enhancing their ability to serve their communities,” Durbin stated in a news release following the grant’s announcement in November.

The goal is to train up to 1,500 officers by October of this year, the university stated.

Asked to weigh in on the training, Heather Mac Donald, author of the best-selling 2016 book “The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe,” argued it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“The Biden Justice Department remains fixated on the false idea that if police stop and arrest a disproportionate number of black criminals, it is because the police are racist,” said Mac Donald, a scholar with the Manhattan Institute and a The College Fix advisory board member.

“A $700,000 federal grant to fight phantom police racism is an unconscionable waste of taxpayer resources,” she told The Fix via email.

Josh Friedman, a law enforcement specialist for the alliance, told the Illinois Times in a Nov. 16 article that many police officers in the region “look the same, have similar backgrounds, and that limits our understanding and our ability to accept people who are dissimilar from us.”

He argued there needs to be a more diverse police force to help solve the problem.

As the alliance prepares to launch the training, one former employee of the university who asked to remain anonymous said the University of Illinois Springfield was assessed as a DEI “mess” in a 2022 report prepared by university-hired consultants.

The tipster argued campus brass “buried” the unfavorable report before accepting the grant.

The report, a copy of which was provided to The College Fix, was primarily focused on the College of Business and Management at UIS, calling it “toxic.” The consultants found the college perpetuates “a climate of toxic power dynamics, inequity, and lack of inclusion.” It also cited “cronyism” concerns.

The findings also criticized the university as a whole for having “White/male values embedded in the climate to the exclusion of other worldviews.”

UIS spokesman Blake Wood told The College Fix in an email this month the climate study was initiated at the request of College of Business and Management Dean Somnath Bhattacharya and that it prompted more review.

“The contract was facilitated by Assistant Director for Access and Equity Shelby Bedford on behalf of UIS. The report promoted a second College of Business and Management culture assessment by another outside vendor,” Wood wrote.

As for training cops in DEI themes, University of Illinois Springfield is not alone.

For example, in July 2023, Colorado University Boulder announced officers would receive training from the school’s Office for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to learn “more inclusive practices.”

The “inclusive language training” would feature lessons on microaggressions, in addition to “wording intent versus impact and the importance of taking feedback.”

In recent years, there has also been a trend to omit the race of suspects when police send out crime alerts to campus communities.

MORE: CU Boulder police to use ‘inclusive language’ to describe suspects

IMAGE: Arindam Banerjee / Shutterstock

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About the Author
College Fix contributor David Glasser is a rising second-year student at the Florida State University College of Law, with over six years of news and opinion writing experience for various publications. He is set to graduate in 2026.