We are all biased to some degree and the best way to avoid improper judgments is recognizing your biases and acquiring the ability to evaluate and understand others.
Police shootings of unarmed black men mostly by ‘white’ cops for the past years have led to the need for reforms in the police departments nationwide. Police service agencies have initiated training of officers on how to accept their unreasonable behavior and how to develop ways to overcome it.
In states such as Baltimore, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Seattle, training is offered in large and small departments. This initiative was recommended by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as a method to reform police departments.
For training, series of real and hypothetical scenarios are given to the officers and their judgments are noted.
During an implicit training course for police in Richmond and Virginia, officers were presented with shoot vs. don’t shoot scenarios, and most of them were more likely to shoot black people than white people.
In one of the hypothetical scenarios officers were sent to a room where a white man was lying on the ground with black people surrounding him.
It wasn’t clear what had happened and the trainees were asked to give their judgments regarding the situation. Most of them assumed it was a robbery. Their judgments were wrong, the man lying on the ground had a heart attack.
This is an example of how cops make wrong judgments because they always fail to challenge their assumptions.
Cops often shoot blacks because they assume all people of color are born criminals. Officers shouldn’t let stereotypes interfere with their work since it may cost many people their lives.
No system is perfect and hopefully with this training, cops will learn how to use their instincts to make the right decisions.
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