Missouri Legal Update

2022 Lesson 9: Implicit Bias

Interpersonal

Release Date: 

6/1/2022

This is an online interpersonal perspectives and implicit bias course designed to help police officers understand what implicit bias is and is not, identify implicit bias in themselves and others, understand how it can affect policing and police departments, and learn practical methods to manage its influence.


The lesson examines actual encounters where implicit bias may have impacted execution of police duties. It describes how implicit bias is formed subconsciously through a wide variety of sources, is part of System 1 quick-thinking processes, and is not synonymous with prejudice. It explains why the difficult role of police officers heightens the need for vigilance regarding implicit bias, including officers’ need to rely on instincts and intuitions, their daily experiences patrolling a certain geographic area, sleep deprivation, and being forced to make split-second decisions with incomplete information in life-or-death situations.


The lesson examines how implicit bias can affect hiring, mentoring, and promotion within law enforcement agencies and gives specific ways agencies can manage its impact, including having structured interviews, making mentoring equally accessible to all, and taking regular inventories. It also examines how implicit bias affects police work, including disparate treatment of White and Black drivers in traffic stops, the ability of witnesses to accurately report criminal activity to officers, and considerations in interviewing victims from other cultures and LGBTQ+ individuals.


The lesson provides ways to manage implicit bias, including being aware of the implicit bias, counter-stereotyping, engaging with diverse communities in a positive manner, taking perspective, thinking of people as individuals first, taking high-quality use-of-force training, and getting enough rest.