It’s no secret — NYPD has been losing the PR game for a while. For decades on end, residents of New York City have protested the police use of force and the way officers interact with their communities over all. Claims of disrespect, intolerance, and general bias taint the people’s views of the people who work hard to keep them safe. As much as the NYPD is invested in taking bad guys off the streets and enforcing laws, what’s more important is that they’re seen as the indispensable members of the community that they are. They’re not just outsiders who come in, lay down the law, and leave — rather, they live in New York, too, and want their friends and neighbors safe from danger.
To that end, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill ordered that all officers on the force will be required to undergo training wherein they face their implicit biases. Biases informed by previous experiences, personal relationships, and media influences can have serious impacts on the way officers interact with New York’s citizens. Officers may approach people differently because of certain traits or characteristics which impact their ability to perform their work of keeping people safe and preventing crime.
First Deputy Police Commissioner Benjamin Tucker cosigned this decree, saying that implicit biases can be harder to address but are urgent to restoring the community’s faith in the police.
The Implicit Bias course will be orchestrated by criminologist Lorie Fridell. A champion of “fair and impartial policing,” Fridell has made national headlines with her research on the impact of racial profiling in particular on efficacy of police work. Her research and data analysis inform her curriculum and help her ensure that the officers she works with leave with a better understand of why they behave the way they behave and how they can change it.
At present, crime in New York City is at a 60-year low, which has been cause for much celebrating among both officers and citizens in general. However, it’s important to look forward and ensure that this trend continues, not reverses.
O’Neill is hoping that, through the workshops and trainings, officers will have more positive and respectful interactions from New Yorkers of all ethnicities and religious practices. If all goes well, the people of New York will have a better appreciation of all the work their police force does and will be more willing to cooperate in investigations and crime reports.