Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Program Targets Increased Trust and Justice in Communities

tree heads

Implicit Bias

LEMIT is launching a new program to help explore and develop better relationships in the community.
Illustration of the outline of a head filled with words describing cognitive bias.

To help diffuse tensions that exist between police and the community, the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas will present “Understanding Implicit Bias: Trust and Justice” on Feb. 14.

The 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO, set off a wave of protests and clashes across the country, leading to continuing strain between law enforcement and minority communities. In an effort to build better relationship in the community, this session will explore implicit bias and strategies that can be used to increase trust between police and citizens.

Implicit bias is the inherent association that people make about different cultural, racial, and ethnics groups and the stereotypes associated with these groups. Based on more than 30 years of research in neurology and social and cognitive psychology, studies have shown that people hold implicit biases even in the absence of heartfelt bigotry simply by paying attention to the social world around them. Implicit racial bias has given rise to a phenomenon known as “racism without racists,” which can cause institutions or individuals to act on prejudices even in spite of good intentions and nondiscriminatory policies or standards.

This session, based on the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, is designed to raise awareness about the issue among law enforcement officers and introduce new methods to enhance relationship in the community using reconciliation and procedural justice. Reconciliation involves frank conversations between law enforcement and communities to address historic tensions, grievances, and misconceptions. The goal of the initiatives for law enforcement and community members are to see:

  • Both misunderstood each other in important ways
  • Both contribute to harms that neither desire
  • Both want the same thing
  • There are immediate opportunities for partnerships that benefit both the community and law enforcement

Procedural justice focuses on the characteristics of law enforcement interactions with the public and how they shape the public’s view of police, their willingness to obey laws and actual crime statistics. Procedural justice is based on four basic principals

  • Treating people with dignity and respect
  • Giving citizen a “voice” during encounters with police
  • Being neutral in decision making
  • Conveying trustworthy motives

The course is available to all certified peace officers in Texas and the cost is $95. Participant will receive eight hours of credit from the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement.

For more information about the program, contact Yvette Shorten at (936) 294-3851 or wys001@shsu.edu