The District of Columbia is experimenting with a new way to reduce police racial bias and negative interactions with Black residents.
Officers will take a course on critical race theory and visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of a new training program, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced on Friday, according to The Washington Post.
Violent crime and homicides are down in the nation’s capital, but the relationship between officers and the Black community are tense, the mayor added.
The program is designed to give officers insight into the Black experience with law enforcement in the district and across the nation.
“People who were supposed to serve and protect had played in the enforcement of discriminatory, racist and unjust policies and laws,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said standing outside the African American History Museum. “The museum includes very honest and poignant stories of the role that policing played in some of the historical injustices in our country.”
Racial sensitivity training, however, doesn’t work because it fails to address implicit racial bias, Lorie Fridell, an associate professor of criminology at the University of South Florida, told The New York Times.
Teaching White cops about the history of racial discrimination and African-American culture rarely helps when officers make a split-second decision on whether to shoot. Despite sensitivity training, cops share the same unconscious biases toward Black people as most Americans do, University of Colorado researcher Joshua Correll explained to The Times. When deciding whether to pull the trigger, cops fall back on their fear of Black men.
Interacting with people in the community on a daily basis while walking the beat and training in how to defuse volatile situations are more effective approaches, Correll added.