Police officers in a majority of states are now mandated to receive “implicit bias training,” where they are informed they are subconsciously racist and must admit to and deliberately overcome their racism.
The trainings, which exploded in popularity following the Ferguson riots in 2014, directly respond to accusations that racist police officers are shooting unarmed African Americans. Following the death of George Floyd, multiple states, including Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas, joined the list of states mandating the training for all their officers.
Harvard’s University’s Implicit Association Test, the foundation of the idea of implicit bias, shows that a majority of Americans associate African Americans more quickly with negative words than white Americans when measured in milliseconds. The theory is that these unconscious biases can cause police officers to use a disparate amount of force against African Americans or use racial profiling to stop and arrest African Americans at greater rates.
But we know from study after study that so-called “implicit bias” has only the slightest link to how a person actually behaves towards people of different races.
So it’s no surprise that a new study shows that the NYPD’s $5.5 million implicit bias training program, which began in 2018, has absolutely no impact on officer behavior.
Proponents of the training expected that New York’s police officers would interact with and arrest fewer African Americans after becoming aware of their supposed deep-seated and unconscious racism. However, stops, frisks, summonses, and arrests of African Americans in New York remained at almost the same proportion of police actions following the implementation of the implicit bias training.
“It’s fair to say that we could not detect effects of the training on officers’ enforcement behaviors,” said Robert E. Worden, the lead researcher of the study.
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