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March 25, 2016Los Angeles, CA, United StatesOperational

ICE 1st federal agency to partner with prominent museum on 'tools for tolerance' training

Photo Credit: Bart Bartholomew, Simon Wiesenthal Center

LOS ANGELES – Twenty high-level managers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week became the first representatives from a federal law enforcement agency to complete an intensive training program at the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) in Los Angeles focused on promoting greater cultural awareness among members of the agency’s leadership team. 

More than a year in development, the three-day course utilizing many of the MOT’s interactive exhibits challenges participants to recognize their own inherent cultural biases and identify ways to develop progressive leadership practices in their respective programs. While the course is modeled on training the MOT conducts for other state and local law enforcement agencies worldwide, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the curriculum was customized to address the unique issues inherent in ICE’s federal law enforcement mission.

“There’s a current exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance that asks visitors to ‘change the way you see and see the way you change,’” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “That’s really the crux of what we’re seeking to accomplish through this joint initiative. We want ICE’s leaders to be agents of change, taking what they learn in this training and using it to transform the way they tackle the daily challenges they face in the workplace.”

ICE first approached the MOT in 2014 about the possibility of creating a training regimen to aid high-level supervisors who are managing an increasingly diverse workforce. After conducting several pilot sessions, the curriculum was expanded to include scenarios and tools that can be applied by ICE personnel when dealing with external contacts as well.

“Our relationship with ICE has been a true partnership. It’s inspiring to work with an agency that is so committed to ensuring the success of its employees that it has invested considerable time and energy to planning and refining a program that is relevant, challenging and impactful,” said the Director of Professional Development Programs for the Museum of Tolerance, Mark Katrikh. “We have been most impressed with the quality and depth of conversation that has emerged during the training.”

Last week’s class was the first of three training sessions ICE anticipates hosting at the MOT this year. The course is taught by MOT personnel along with previously trained ICE managers, who act as facilitators.  As part of the training, attendees also hear from guest speakers, including Congressional Gold Medal recipient Terrence James Roberts, who was among the first nine black students to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957.

Several ICE managers who participated in the initial pilot training courses were so impressed by the impact of the class, they agreed to return as facilitators.

“I’ve been involved in law enforcement for more than 20 years and this is one of the most valuable training opportunities I’ve ever experienced,” said David Marin, deputy field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Los Angeles. “Now I’m thrilled to have the chance to help teach the course. Besides prompting honest discussions about personal responsibility and values in the workplace, this training helps participants understand how their own biases and preconceived views not only impact their ability to be effective leaders, but may also impede the agency from contributing in the most positive manner to our communities.”

The MOT, which opened to the public in 1993, is a human rights laboratory and educational center dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in today’s world. The goal was to create an experience that would challenge people of all backgrounds to confront their most closely-held assumptions and assume responsibility for change. Today, the MOT attracts more than 250,000 visitors annually.