Implicit bias is one of the buzzwords that seemingly captured people’s attention as an offshoot of the cases of deadly use of force that transpired in the last few years, mostly against people of color. Where does the bias stem from? Is it the individual? The institution? And from the connotation of the word itself, how does one address something that is unacknowledged?
This session’s instructor is Dr. Regi Frection, the Founder of Ares Human Rights International. His experience ranges from enlisting in the US Army, serving as a law enforcement professional, a stint in a fire department, and more recently, an advocate for human rights, labor rights, law, and legal/social research, theory, and analysis.
His discussion covered:
- Examining implicit bias using a lens that considers both the individual and the institutions they’re associated with.
- The disparity between the views of the general public and law enforcement and across races on the state of equality within the US.
- The qualities of the ideal law enforcement officer that values decision-making and problem-solving skills, technical proficiency, open-mindedness, and ethics.
- The four elements by which law enforcement conduct must be scrutinized against – the proportionality, legality, accountability, and necessity (PLAN).
- Using these to reflect on the conduct of officers in some notable use of force incidents.
- The aim and effect of putting the PLAN into action.
- Understanding how the brain processes information using a technical analogy.
- The three brain processing states that determine human behavior/response and case examples of when these are used.
- The survival state – the primal layer that manages basic bodily functions and focuses on keeping us alive.
- The emotional state – that thrives off social interactions and belongingness in order to survive in a society.
- The executive state – the rarely used state responsible for higher cognition, analysis, and foresight.
- The need for law enforcement officers to activate all three brain states to deal with the complex decision-making required in the job.
- The benefits of higher education in the law enforcement career to develop the executive state capabilities.
- ‘Glitches’ in the brain processes which results in behavior that isn’t at par with the expectations that come in a highly demanding law enforcement job.
- How the glitches get embedded into our information processes through implicit and explicit programming.
- The centuries’ worth of history that denied rights to certain segments of the community and the explicit programming that is institutionalized in the field of policing.
- How despite progress in society that renounces explicit biases, perceptions and biases remain under the guise of new programming preventing law enforcement officers from functioning in the executive state.
- The concept of structural violence where social structures disadvantage certain sectors which when coupled with individual biases have adverse outcomes.
- A look into the individual risk factors that transpire in the background of the human cognitive process which ultimately influence their decisions and actions.
- The situational risk factors which reinforce existing biases and empower an individual’s likelihood to act according to these beliefs.
- The reality that these glitches are not exclusive to law enforcement but apply to society as a whole which therefore requires solutions that engage the community as well.
- The conditions that must be satisfied to decrease the likelihood of prejudice and systems that can be put into place to reverse the implicit programming of those within the criminal justice arena.
Questions from the webinar participants were about:
- Data on how bias actually affects decision-making.
- Messaging from leaders contrary to adopting the executive state mindset and how this impacts the people’s behavior.
- Understanding the context in which crimes are happening and the root problems of the communities instead of just enforcing a zero-tolerance approach to criminality.
- Using proportionality as the guiding path for charging those who break the law.
- “The content and expertise of this speaker was excellent! I recently completed my PhD with my dissertation topic being “gender-based microaggressions experienced by female officers,” and much of what Dr. Regi spoke about (the cognitive sides and biases associated with microaggressions) was spot on!” — Toye
- “I found the idea of looking at recruits for diverse life experience to be interesting and something that all agencies should consider.” — Tony
- “Extremely insightful and seemingly valid facts. Would love to hear more from this presenter, especially given his diverse background (professionally and personally).” — Willow
- “Dr. Frection’s presentation was so well-done and informative, but the time was so short that he was not able to finish it. A lot of our thoughts and attitudes are so ingrained that unless we are educated and aware of it, we will act on it impulsively and with emotion, leading to harmful consequences.” — Susan
- “I feel that training like this is essential for all who work in law enforcement because we tend to take on the ‘us versus them’ mentality, and regardless of your race/background, those in law enforcement bring their biases/prejudices and acquired skewed world view to the job and it impacts the career, creates victims of the CJS, and creates more risks to citizens and law enforcement. This training was a truth that needs to be said, over and over.” — Sabrina