By Susan Jones
To ensure a "fair and impartial" criminal justice system, the U.S. Department of Justice plans to train every one of its law enforcement employees and prosecutors to "recognize and address" their "implicit bias."
The training begins today with top Justice Department officials, including Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and the leadership of the FBI, ATF, District Attorney's Office and U.S. Marshals Service.
On Monday, Yates announced that "over 28,000" department employees "will learn how to recognize and address their own implicit bias, which are the unconscious or subtle associations that individuals make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups."
According to the DOJ news release, "Implicit bias can affect interactions and decisions due to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and socio-economic status, as well as other factors. Social science has shown that all individuals experience some form of implicit bias but that the effects of those biases can be countered through training."
The implicit bias training now will become part of DOJ's regular training curricula.
“The Department of Justice has a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and impartial,” said Deputy Attorney General Yates.
“Given that the research is clear that most people experience some degree of unconscious bias(es), and that the effects of that bias can be countered by acknowledging its existence and utilizing response strategies, it is essential that we provide implicit bias training to all of our prosecutors and law enforcement agents. Along with the heads of our law enforcement agencies, I’m looking forward to participating in DOJ’s very first training session tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.”
After the top brass is trained, the focus will turn to 23,000 agents employed by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), as well as the approximately 5,800 attorneys working in the 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country.
Eventually, the training will reach prosecutors in the department’s litigating components and agents of the Office of the Inspector General.
"At the Department of Justice, we are committed to ensuring that our own personnel are well trained in the core principles and best practices of community policing," said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Today’s announcement is an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote fairness, eliminate bias and build the stronger, safer, more just society that all Americans deserve.”
Since 2010, the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services has worked with state and local law enforcement to train over 2,600 law enforcement officers at both the line and supervisor level in its implicit bias program known as Fair and Impartial Policing.
For the department’s new internal training, curricula have been created to address the work of prosecutors and federal law enforcement and the different missions of the law enforcement components. Each law enforcement component’s curriculum includes three levels of training based on how implicit bias may affect the duties for line personnel, supervisors and managers, and executive personnel.