Huntsville police starting implicit bias training for every officer

(Source: WAFF)
Published: Apr. 1, 2019 at 6:42 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville police are rolling out a new program for every officer and every recruit. It’s called implicit bias training. The goal is to make sure every officer in the department eliminates stereotypes in any situation or suspect they encounter.

Officers say they’ve had implicit bias training in the past, but now there will be a specific course they take.

“As law enforcement officers, we are trained to not judge a situation at first glance,” said Lt. Michael Johnson.

Following the deadly shooting at the beginning of the year involving a Hoover Police officer, the ACLU and the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP took action. They filed public records requests with police departments in cities in Alabama, including Huntsville. Those requests included racial bias training materials.

Johnson says implicit bias isn’t just about race.

“One of the things that this could be compared to, implicit bias, is the age of the suspect. That the age of a suspect doesn’t make them dangerous. An officer that gets a call of an armed individual and when they arrive, ends up being an elderly individual with a weapon. There could automatically be a bias there, that the individual is no threat at all,” said Johnson.

City leaders and Huntsville police officers say this new training program has been in the works for a long time. The goal is to make sure they don’t have any issues.

“We want to be at the for-front of all training and education for all of our personnel and we want to be the most professional police department, not only in this state, but in this country and in the world, and the only way to do that is to stay at the forefront of issues like this, so although we have not had a problem, we’re not going to wait until we do have a problem,” said Johnson.

The new course on implicit bias training will be taught to new recruits in the academy and all of the Huntsville police officers will take the course as part of their continuing education.

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