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IMPD offers implicit bias training session for the public

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) plan to train Hoosiers on implicit bias Tuesday evening.

At 6:30 p.m., IMPD will host the program at Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School, located at 3960 Meadows Drive.

Dr. Lorie Fridell of the University of South Florida and Founder of Fair and Impartial Policing has been training IMPD commanders for the past week on the science of implicit bias with the intention that they will gradually train the department’s entire 1,647-member workforce.

“We have to remember that even the overwhelming number of well-intentioned people have biases that can impact their policing,” said Fridell. “In the classroom we’re talking about some of the science that shows we link various groups to stereotypes and those stereotypes that we link impact on our behavior.

“Maybe we categorize them based on their dress or their body weight or their race or their gender and then we draw upon information we have accumulated over time about that group and it happens automatically.

“We talk about the fact that we all have biases. The key is not acting upon them,” said Fridell.

Fridell said implicit bias is not always directed at members of another social or ethnic group.

“You can have stereotypes and biases about your own groups,” she said. “Women can have biases about women. Blacks can have biases about blacks.”

Homeland Security Major Brian Mahone has studied implicit bias and will be tasked with bringing his staff up to speed on the new IMPD curriculum.

“As police officers we need to understand that not only is that wrong as far as treating that person, it makes us less safe because those assumptions on the bad side can also hurt on the assumptions on the good side.”

Mahone said implicit bias isn’t always about treating someone unfairly to their detriment.

Sometimes it’s about giving someone a break they don’t deserve.

“An elderly white female, we would not think, ‘Oh, that could not be a drug carrier,’ but nationally we are finding that sometimes people are using those implicit biases against law enforcement to be able to carry out criminal deeds,” he said.

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach recently announced he was firing two young officers for their roles in the killing of an unarmed man, Aaron Bailey, after he fled a traffic stop last summer.

One of the officers is biracial.

The Bailey family is suing IMPD based in part on the claim that, “As a matter of policy, custom, or practice, the city of Indianapolis failed to implement proper implicit bias training for its officers.”

Within a month of the fatal shooting, Chief Roach issued a public announcement on YouTube that his department would undertake implicit bias training for its officers.

“We talked about implicit bias and we wanted to make sure that you understand and the department understands that we’re not just checking a box, we’re not just taking the training to say we’ve taken the training,” said Roach. “A real organizational change is gonna occur when we understand implicit bias and understand diversity and inclusion and are able to mesh that within the organization in everything we do.”

As a professional trainer of law enforcement officers, Dr. Fridell said that implicit bias is present throughout society, and not just between the men and women who wear a badge.

“Police are one of the most stereotyped groups,” she said. “When there’s a news story about something that happened on the west coast and all police are painted by the same brush, so it is important for community members to recognize they have their own biases and stereotypes including, very often, biases about the police profession.”