Crestview city employees attend bias training seminar

Brian Hughes | Special to the News Bulletin

CRESTVIEW — During the past several months, Crestview city employees received training on unconscious biases.

The training began with a class for the city manager and city department heads, followed by all police officers and firefighters. On Thursday, the rest of the city’s more than 240 employees received the training. 

Crestview City Manager Tim Bolduc introduces a training program on unconscious bias to Crestview police officers and staff as instructors the Rev. Cecil Williams and Anthony Avance Sr. observe.

“Understanding the mechanics of how we think and what that sets into motion is incredibly important,” City Manager Tim Bolduc said as he introduced guest speakers from Eglin Air Force Base.

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The Rev. Cecil Williams and Anthony Avance Sr. are the base’s directors of equal employment opportunity and inclusion, respectively. They teach the same training at Eglin, which Bolduc said provides the city with an advantage, especially given Crestview’s large military family population.

Crestview police officers learn from the Rev. Cecil Williams, Eglin Air Force Base director of equal employment opportunity, how unconscious bias can be overcome when encountering the public.

“We partnered with the base so our staff members hear the same training as the base staff hear,” Bolduc said. “This training serves as a force multiplier in ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

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“Training is an integral component of the city’s mission to improve the quality of life by providing exceptional municipal services,” he added. “In the case of the police department, it’s important we give our law enforcement the training and tools they need to do their jobs without bias. I believe the proper training will equip all of our employees to better serve the community.”

The Rev. Cecil Williams conducts training on unconscious bias for more than 150 Crestview city employees during an Oct. 22 training day.

Williams said unconscious bias is a natural human reaction in that everyone filters people with whom we interact through various factors including life experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, education, work experience, language abilities, physical capabilities, philosophical and spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity and gender. These same attributes also comprise our diversity, he said.

The Rev. Cecil Williams, Eglin Air Force Base director of equal opportunity, teaches a class on unconscious bias to socially-distanced Crestview Police Department officers and staff recently.

“In 2019, the city adopted as its vision statement, ‘To be known as a forward thinking, hospitable, and growing community that embraces diversity with a family-centric culture,’” Bolduc said. “To accomplish this vision, understanding and applying the principles of the training is essential.”

Brian Hughes is the city of Crestview's public information officer.