By Jonathan McCall

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police are headed back to college to build better relationships with the public.

The Baltimore Police Department is taking part in a unique class at Howard University, aimed at helping to build trust between law enforcement and minority communities.

It’s called “Policing Inside Out,” and it allows students and officers to share their experiences to gain a deeper understanding and perspective.

Baltimore PD deputy police commissioner Darryl Desouza is headed back to class in order to learn a valuable lesson.

“We have to fix these relationships before something occurs,” Desouza said.

Through “Policing Inside Out,” Howard University students are learning firsthand about the split second decisions officers face.

During the semester-long course, students learn hands-on firearms training, and also spend time on the streets, shadowing officers.

With a number of high profile shootings involving police and minorities across the country, those behind the program hope the experience will open eyes and minds on both sides.

“Growing up, I was always taught not to interact with police officers,” Howard University student Alia Lewis said. “[Reporter: Why?] I was just always told they’re not on our side.”

“You have some students who navigate through the class, and they’re just fearful,” said course creator, Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad.

A key component of the class is talking.

“We have to start somewhere. I think this is a great start,” Desouza said.

It’s something Desouza says doesn’t happen enough between officers and the public, unless a crime is involved.

“These people are still humans outside of this uniform,” Desouza said “They have feelings. They have emotions. They have families.”

Organizers say the course was developed with support from the International Association of Police Chiefs.

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