Panel of Experts Discuss What Is and Isn’t Working in Current Law Enforcement Anti-Bias Programs

National Law Enforcement and Museum Panel Discusses Anti-Bias Training and Relationship Between Race and Bias.

Washington, DC— The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum hosted a virtual panel discussion on August 10. Spotlight On Law Enforcement Anti-Bias Programs examined the effectiveness and influences of anti-bias training programs in law enforcement and communities across the country.

“Solution-based programs are especially critical during this time of increased tensions between law enforcement and communities they serve,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto. “Providing a platform for dialogue so that we can help strengthen those relationships is a key component of our mission.”

Feedback on the program was positive and immediate, as staff at the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum heard from both law enforcement and civilian attendees, which numbered more than 3,000 in real time for the virtual event.

“We have created a schedule of programs for the remainder of 2020 that face today’s issues head on with great diversity of thought,” said Director of Museum Programs Thomas Canavan. “Police Chiefs have alerted us that they’ve made watching the replay of this program compulsory for their officers, and many others reached out to let us know that they are relieved to see collaboration on the horizon as it pertains to law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Participants for this panel event included:

  • Dr. Booker Hodges, Assistant Commissioner of Law Enforcement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
  • Dwayne Crawford, Executive Director, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
  • Sharon Sayles-Belton, Vice President, Partnerships and Alliances, Thomson Reuters; Former Mayor, Minneapolis
  • Patrick Yoes, National President, National Fraternal Order of Police
  • Dr. Tracie Keesee, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives, Center for Policing Equity
  • Fabienne Brooks, Chief (Retired),  Co-Director of the Law Enforcement Division, National Coalition Building Institute
  • Guillermo Lopez, Co-Director of the Law Enforcement Division, National Coalition Building Institute

Anti-bias training has been part of officer training in many jurisdictions, including Minneapolis and New York City, among others. The effectiveness of these trainings has been drawn into question by independent studies, news outlets, and police organizations.

“One of the things we understand about biases is that we all have them,” noted Retired Chief Fabienne Brooks of the National Coalition Building Institute during the program. “People may think you don’t, but you all have them. The anti-bias training is a way to acknowledge and recognize what those biases are.”

Former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton served as keynote speaker for the panel discussion. Currently Thomson Reuters’ Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances, Ms. Sayles-Belton told participants, “My personal goal is to take back to my colleagues and my community new information that will help us re-imagine and rebuild a model for policing that is fair and just for everyone.”

When asked whether there is a difference between racism and bias, all panelists agreed there is a difference between race and bias; however, they often intersect. Panelists also agreed that culture, including police culture, has an impact on anti-bias training programs.

“It’s not just about the broader culture, said Tracee Keesee, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives at the Center for Policing Equity. “It’s about this culture of policing inside those buildings and what happens in there.”

NOBLE Executive Director Dwayne Crawford noted, “Sadly enough, at least here in the United States, a significant amount of our American institutions have systemic racism because they weren’t necessarily designed for African-Americans, Latinos or people of color.”

Addressing police and community culture, National Fraternal Order of Police National President Patrick Yoes said, “It’s all about the relationships we build. As law enforcement, we’re granted a certain amount of power, but those powers don’t come without a responsibility to be able to have that community support and trust.”

Panelists agreed that anti-bias training programs must be on-going in order to be effective. According to Guillermo Lopez, Co-Director of the Law Enforcement Division, National Coalition Building Institute, “when you have a significant portion of people working in this way, rowing together, departments change. Communities get better. We have difficult conversations because we want to be together.”

The full program is available for viewing here.

To see a list of all upcoming panel discussions planned by the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum, click here.

For media requests, please contact Robyn Small at 202-737-8524.

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About the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial contains the names of 22,217 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, visit LawMemorial.org. Authorized by Congress in 2000, the 57,000-square-foot National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building tells the story of American law enforcement by providing visitors a “walk in the shoes” experience along with educational journeys, immersive exhibitions, and insightful programs. The Museum is an initiative of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information on the Law Enforcement Museum, visit LawEnforcementMuseum.org.

Robyn Small
rsmall@nleomf.org
(202) 737-8524