Implicit bias training has been integrated into the criminal justice system over at least 6 years in response to tragic incidents that have befallen the profession. Despite the pervasiveness of such programs, there is a lack of material when it comes to validating its effectiveness. This session highlights the findings of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study to better understand how implicit bias training interventions influence officers’ behavior and perceptions as well as the communities’ experience with law enforcement.
Leading the discussion are Lois James and Renée J. Mitchell. Lois is an associate professor in the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing and Sleep and Performance Research Center and focuses on topics like bias and stress for the law enforcement population, among others. Meanwhile, Renée is currently a Senior Police Researcher with RTI International with 22-years’ experience working in law enforcement and was a Fulbright Police Research Fellow for her research in the area of juvenile gang violence.
Specifics of this discussion include:
- A backgrounder on the NIJ-funded and Washington State University-led study On the effectiveness of implicit bias training that established:
- The dearth of available resources to back up and demonstrate implicit bias training’s effectiveness in policing.
- The reality of how implicit bias influences interaction between people in the community including law enforcement.
- How pivotal incidents put law enforcement under close public scrutiny for implicit bias.
- The greater consciousness about implicit bias and law enforcement’s response to this through the implementation of implicit bias training.
- Differentiating implicit from explicit bias and how implicit bias is an integral part of human’s blueprint for survival.
- The different ways implicit bias and pervasive societal stereotypes manifest.
- How biases can both be rational or irrational and the different ways in which bias is learned.
- The different types of implicit bias training programs being implemented for law enforcement agencies.
- The fact that understanding underlying theories does not guarantee effectiveness and that the only worthwhile measure of effectiveness is based on behavior.
- The NIJ Study on implicit bias training effectiveness and its preliminary results.
- The methodology and the metrics that defined the scope and limitation of the study.
- The data collection period, the variables captured, and the coding process set to ensure consistency and reliability.
- The specific training intervention approaches employed and how it was facilitated.
- The groups that were compared in the randomized control trial.
- Trends for the community members and items relating to the officer’s behavior and outcomes of the incident/call for service.
- Insights gleaned from the data collected in terms of the benefits of the training intervention programs
- The group with the most notable results across the three predefined metrics of fairness in officer behavior, positive community perception, and officer perception of the training.
- How the study proved evidence of behavior change and improved community perceptions following implicit bias training and identified the specific type of intervention that yields the greatest benefit.
- The study’s next step to determine the training dosage to ensure optimum effectiveness and the period before its effects wear off.
Questions raised by the webinar participants are about:
- Implicit bias testing to identify one’s own level of implicit bias.
- The level of implicit bias in policing as compared to other industries and professions.
- Factors that determine implicit bias’ resistance to change.
- Longitudinal aspect of the study.
- Implicit bias training and its link to anti-racist, equity, and other related trainings.
- Capturing information on weapons or impairment for the community members.
- The tool used for coding.
- Implicit bias within the agencies and management structure.
- What a field training officer can do to support efforts to neutralize implicit bias.
Webinars with these Speakers
- Strategies for Managing Fatigue and Promoting Sleep Health
- April 28: Effectiveness Evaluation of Implicit Bias Training: Research Study Results (this webinar)
- May 17: Mental Models: A Method for Attacking any Policing Problem
- “I really liked how they paired classroom training and scenarios to achieve maximum effectiveness in the outcome of behavior. I also liked the term “gentle awareness” to help teach others.” — Heather
- “It was helpful to hear the details of the research study and encouraging to hear the positive effects on the after-training behavior of officers and of community attitudes. Confidence-building is important for legitimizing and promoting program participation.” — Rod
- “My primary interest was the results of the study. I read in a forthcoming book that I am reviewing that there is very little evidence to support whether these trainings are useful or not. I may have to notify the author of this study. ;-). Renee and Lois are da bomb.” — Frank
- “The fact that this is pointing out a bunch of the implicit biases by name and not shying away from that is really important. The first step to creating change is making people aware of what they may not notice. Thank you so much for this!” — Brittany
- “Reminder how the biased thought process affects everyone and it’s not specific to one thing. Please keep feeding us all with continued education.” — Charles
- “It is obvious and evident that everyone has explicit and implicit biases. It is of great value when individuals recognize that fact and consciously act to mitigate them. What a wonderful world, in all facets of life, we would all experience if that would happen. Thank you for the study. Hopefully, this is not the last word that we will hear on the subject and hopefully the results of continuous study prove that people are making positive inroads in eliminating implicit bias.” — Adele
- “The content and examples were detailed and helped with the understanding of the differences in biases.” — Amy
The American Society of Evidence–Based Policing is a non-profit organization started by working police officers designed to drive the national conversation towards ensuring that the least harmful, most effective, fairest, and safest strategies are employed to prevent crime, reduce harm, and improve community wellness.