Sunday, June 11, 2017

Implicit bias, anti-Black racism and police use of force in Toronto, Ont...

Implicit Bias and Race:

Implicit bias is widely accepted as affecting nearly every criminal justice context.
Implicit bias in policing affects the ability to detect threats with Black suspects, the decision to use force, and ultimately, the approach to the Use of Force Model. For example, Black suspects are viewed as larger, more physically imposing threats, with or without a weapon. Racial profiling is both an act and a title. People notice what race we are on an everyday basis. Some individual Police Officer act on their personal biases.
That has always been the case. However, given that racial bias is largely implicit, i.e. officers are unaware that race plays a role in their interaction with Black suspects, the discussion of implicit bias needs to be progressive. Implicit bias is hard to detect because officers are unable to have any introspection into how race plays into their decision-making. This is especially prevalent for officers who genuinely hold the position that race was not a factor in their decision to use force. Bias-free policing looks at behaviour, rather than appearance, to come to strategic decisions.

If race even only plays a factor amongst many factors in the decision to act or refrain from acting, the manner in which Black suspects are treated can be dramatically different than the way White suspects are treated in similar situations. In other words, race does not have to be the cause for the interaction with a suspect, however, when race factors into the decision on how to approach a conflict, the results can be disastrous. Racism Behaviour is not a social issue that simply disappears over time; it requires a myriad of active decisions to raise awareness of implicit bias and extensive training. Implicit bias has an inexorable link to the decision to use force.

One of the primary decisions that must be made in use of force is the decision to de-escalate, even in the face of a threat. In the following section I outline the legitimate considerations that are involved in threat assessments and the decision to use force.
Race will never be a legitimate consideration.

This is not to say that the officers involved are necessarily racist or have any malicious or malevolent racist impulses; but the officers, under the pressure that comes with the job as an officer, may have what has been termed a "shooter bias." Shooter bias research suggests that there is a bias for white people to shoot Black suspects more often than White suspects. This is predominantly rooted in the belief that Black suspects, armed or unarmed, are more volatile and dangerous. If the officer has the implicit bias that there is a greater danger posed by a Black suspect, they feel justified in using a corresponding response according to the Use of Force model.

I will discuss the considerations that go into the decision to use force, including when force can be used, the types of force that can be used, the use of force continuum, the factors to determine whether the use of force was excessive or not, and the broad and flexible powers of de-escalation. One must never forget that "Hormonal Induced Stress" often affects police officers in deadly force encounters.


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