Law enforcement agencies are constantly struggling to find time and financing for training. The challenge is made even more difficult as agencies face budget pitfalls due to reduced government revenues related to COVID-19 as well as “defund the police” efforts across the country. Now, more than ever, agencies must be diligent in making certain that every hour of training time allotted and every training dollar spent are utilized as wisely as possible.
Many politicians and other prominent voices express support for implicit bias training in this time of budgetary strain. This would often mean that officers are getting implicit bias training instead of training in the areas of officer wellness, defensive tactics, front-line leadership, investigative techniques, de-escalation or community policing, just to name a few.
Implicit bias training, in its various forms, is not geared towards addressing officer behavior, but rather officer thinking—more to the point, it seeks to address biased thoughts that reside in the deep recesses of officers’ minds that even they are not aware of. Moreover, even if we assume that we should focus on attempting to change officers’ innermost thoughts, there is no evidence that any of this training actually works. Particularly concerning is the fact that agencies that have adopted the training for years are the very same agencies struggling to contend with massive civil unrest as their elected officials and police leadership condemn their agencies as being systemically racist.
In this two-hour webinar, Attorney Matt Dolan will discuss the available evidence on the effectiveness of implicit bias training. He will also discuss alternative training strategies that may prove more practical in improving agency operations that are focused on officer behavior rather than unconscious thoughts.
As difficult decisions lie ahead for law enforcement agencies across the country in the coming days and weeks, we must ask: does it make sense to invest in training that is not based on actual officer behavior, has no evidence of effectiveness, and reduces agencies’ ability to offer other forms of training that is desperately needed in a profession where officers are in desperate need of more practical training?