Utilization of Implicit Bias Training in Regards to Police Use of Non-Lethal Force




Alston, Dr. Roy E.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



Implicit biases are both pervasive and robust (Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998; Kang, 2012; Kang & Lane, 2010; Nosek et al., 2007). The truth and reality of implicit biases is that each of us possess implicit biases (Rachlinski et al., 2009). Implicit bias by the police causes long-term damage found in the form of reduced police legitimacy and a sharp decline in the public trust of the police. As public interest grows in how the police treat all people, especially people of color, each new negative incident furthers broadens the wedge between local law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to serve. Recognizing this type of bias, and then directly and purposefully working to eliminate it, is crucial for cultivating a truly neutral mindset from which the individual officer can then make reasoned decisions. Neutrality is an assumed position based on an individual’s role and/or profession. Certain chosen careers fields, such as medical personnel, educators and law enforcement professionals, advertise a position of neutrality where each person is treated as an equal individual. While much of the discussion to this point has centered on the use of lethal force by the police in police/citizens interactions, the recently published Harvard study clearly illustrates the true area of concern lies in instances of non-lethal force not in instances of deadly force (Fryer, 2016). Effectively responding to these findings and the desires of all citizens for the police to be neutral in the execution of their duties is a mandatory step in the process of healing police relationships with all communities. Therefore, law enforcement agencies nationwide should implement an implicit bias training program.


Discrimination in criminal justice administration, Multiculturalism, Civil rights, Nonlethal weapons