As police have grappled with accusations of racism after shootings of unarmed blacks, the Department of Justice has pushed law enforcement departments to undertake increasingly popular trainings on how unconscious biases such as racial prejudice influence policing. Now, the federal department is turning the mirror on itself, reports the Los Angeles Times.
DOJ said yesterday that more than 28,000 employees will take part in mandatory implicit bias training over the next year, forcing federal agents to confront their subtle views on race and a host of other issues, including gender and sexual orientation. The trainings will include 5,800 U.S. attorneys and 23,000 federal agents in the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and U.S. Marshals Service.
The move comes after criticism of the department, which had encouraged local police to take part in such trainings but had not widely implemented anti-bias curriculum internally. Since 2010, the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which supports local police through education programs and grants for hiring and equipment, has helped train more than 2,600 police through an effort called Fair and Impartial Policing. A version of the program, developed by the Police Executive Research Forum, will be used for federal agents. It covers race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as “socioeconomic and professional status,” according to the department. Delores Jones-Brown of the John Jay College Center on Race, Crime and Justice called the Justice Department training a “major step forward.”