The Truth About Bias in Policing

Barbara A. Schwartz

Is there bias in policing? Do you know what bias really means? Does the unconscious brain affect your bias and your actions as a police officer? Do you know how to articulate reasonable suspicion beyond race, gender, or appearance?

Is there systemic racism in law enforcement’s DNA?

Continuing its legacy of providing cutting-edge training, Calibre Press offers a new class that explores those questions: “The PEACE Program–Balancing Our Biases.”

PEACE stands for Prejudice, Empathy, Attitude, Communications, and Engagement.

The two-day class, scheduled on November 16th and 17th in Texas City, provides police officers with an understanding of what bias, prejudice, and racism really are and what they are not; educates officers about how to control the unconscious brain; and teaches communication skills for more effective and safe policing.

Bias Can Keep An Officer Alive

Retired Lieutenant Jim Glennon, the owner of Calibre Press, created and teaches the PEACE Program class.

He maintains that all humans have biases and biases are not inherently bad. In fact, good biases can keep an officer alive and safe.

Glennon differentiates between two types of biases: (1) explicit which is clearly stated and known, and (2) implicit which is outside the officer’s conscious awareness.

“I have a lot of explicit biases that are not bad,” Glennon explained. “I have explicit bias for the Chicago Bears and Cubs, for Italian food, and for Ireland.”

All human beings have unconscious implicit biases. It is impossible not to have them. Implicit biases are innate to our nature and borne from our education, what we are exposed to, and from experiencing life.

By detailing how the brain works, and how memories are formed under stressful circumstances, Glennon teaches how to consciously control the unconscious brain and unconscious biases.

Self Evaluation

Officers will assess and evaluate their biases, then learn skills to prevent biases from adversely affecting their policing style.

Often asked if the class is aimed at straight, white, male cops, Glennon says no: There are racists in every race.

Racism is an emotional topic. Human beings constantly and unconsciously prejudge people. Glennon admits that the class’s open discussion will make people uncomfortable. That has become one of his favorite parts about teaching the class–the truth and introspection that emerges.

Communication is Key to Officer Safety and Survival

“An officer is constantly communicating on many different levels.” Glennon believes that law enforcement fails miserably when it comes to training communication skills. He has made it his life’s mission to change that, including writing and publishing the book “Arresting Communications.”

Officers understand that the majority of communication is nonverbal in nature, but do not understand the unconscious aspect of communication. Glennon, who has a degree in psychology, teaches how to become aware of, and control, unconscious communications, how biases are unconsciously communicated to others, and how to use communication to motivate people to cooperate.

The goal of policing, according to Glennon, is to control, redirect, and influence people’s immediate behavior.

“To do that,” Glennon says, “we first have to control our own behavior and understand how to communicate with other people.”

Articulating Reasonable Suspicion

Glennon reviews the intent of stop and frisk as set forth by Terry v. Ohio with a new perspective.

“What you believe affects what you see. What you see affects what you believe. What you don’t see affects what you believe. All this affects your memory. Bias literally affects what you remember.” Glennon says you don’t want that to creep into how you articulate reasonable suspicion.

He wants officers to consciously know what the unconscious knows and how to articulate that orally and in writing.

Six Concepts From the PEACE Program

“I wanted to fashion a class,” Glennon said, “that teaches officers how to be better police officers in their communities.”

He also wants to extend the training to the public by  facilitating conferences between police agencies and the communities they serve.

Glennon wants officers to walk away from the class with six concepts:

1) Belief that everyone has inherent value and how to communicate that belief in the officer’s policing interactions.

2) Become a master in establishing rapport.

3) Skills on how to treat people with dignity and respect so the officer can achieve (2).

4) How to contain the “emotional idiot” inside of all of us. Not letting our authority become the issue and cause the officer to overreact.

5) How to avoid legalistic mentality–knowing that sometimes the best way to handle a violation, such as a traffic violation, is not to enforce, but instead engage the person and build rapport. Evaluating who and when to give that break.

6) Developing skills to articulate, consciously, reasonable suspicion beyond a person’s race, gender, appearance, etc.

Houston Police Officers Union Urges Officers to Attend

HPOU chose to promote the PEACE Program because the class provides real-world training and skills needed for officers to survive and defend themselves in today’s antipolice environment.

To register for the November 16th & 17th PEACE class in Texas City, to inquire about facilitating a PEACE conference in your community, or to purchase a copy of Glennon’s book “Arresting Communications” go to www.calibrepress.com or call Linda Arnold at 630-460-3247.

Copyright©2016  Barbara A. Schwartz  All Rights Reserved