News 01.08.16

Police Departments Taking Initiative to Address the Effects of Officers’ Personal Biases

As has been covered extensively on the

Innocence Blog

, implicit bias can influence every aspect of criminal cases, especially at the beginning when police are conducting investigations. Factors such as class, race, gender, religion or other factors can determine the ways in which law enforcement treats cases and the people involved with them. No doubt, implicit bias on the part of police has played a role in wrongful convictions in the United States. It may be heartening, then, to know that law enforcement agencies are actively seeking to address how bias influences policing by way of in-depth, research-based trainings and courses.

According to an article released yesterday in the

Washington Post

, police from departments from across the country—Los Angeles, New Orleans, Baltimore and Seattle—are being trained by experts to recognize their own biases and educated about the ways that those biases shape their police work. Some the trainings have been in response to the protests and unrest that have evolved out of some of the recent violent incidents with police in Ferguson and Baltimore. Other trainings are being held to prevent such incidents. The overall goal is for “officers [to] recognize their prejudices and develop strategies for enforcing the law equitably in spite of them.” reports the



Based on science that shows how inherent bias influences decision-making, the courses include everything from frank discussions about personal prejudices to assigned readings to viewing revealing video footage of police officers who made regrettable misjudgments based on their own biases.  

Black Lives Matter activists along with President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing have “pushed implicit bias training to the forefront of the national conversation on law enforcement practices,” writes the


. Baltimore Police Major Marc Partee, who oversees these and other trainings for his department, believes the trainings can bring about positive outcomes.

“You can’t make that connection with your community until you recognize that there is bias,” said Partee, according to the



Read the entire article



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