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|Officers learn plenty from poverty summit|
When the University of Louisiana-Monroe launches its online course, "A Framework to Understanding Poverty," later this month, two of the West Monroe Police Department's finest will be among those enrolled.
Sgt. Jay Regal and Officer Matt Graves are scheduled to participate in the semester-long companion course, as part of their work on the WMPD Neighborhood Stabilization Team.
Regal said the conference was a great opportunity for him to learn about the people he serves.
"It was good for teachers, law enforcement and social workers to spend time together discussing the issues we face dealing with impoverished children," said Regal, referring to a poverty seminar ULM, Ouachita Parish Schools, the City of West Monroe and the West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce hosted earlier this week.
As part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Team, Regal's job is focused on helping bring increased security to higher-crime neighborhoods through increased police presence and interfacing with the citizens in those neighborhoods.
Regal and his partner, Graves, work out of an office at the West Monroe Community Center near the Riverbend area.
Regal said many of the children he works with on a daily basis are similar to the children who were discussed at the poverty seminar. He said he expected ULM's online class to reinforce what he learned at the seminar.
"We all need better information to communicate with people from different economic classes," Regal said. "Teachers, law enforcement officers and social workers need that information to be able to understand individuals from the different social and economic backgrounds."
Though Regal has more than 10 years with the police department, he learned a great deal from the seminar.
"A lot of new police officers could benefit from the seminar, Regal said. "It's a shock when you go from one economic background to another."
Regal said he plans on sharing much of the information he received yesterday with new officers entering the department this year.
"I wish they could have been in the seminar," Regal said.