In an effort to reduce opportunities for discriminatory perceptions, the Houston Independent School District Police Department is now offering its employees training on implicit bias.
The implicit bias training is meant to expose participants to their unconscious biases and offer information on how to eliminate those perceptions.
The two-day training kicked off in September at police headquarters and was led by Epic Collaborative Advisors, a consulting firm. Department leaders discussed how to interact with stakeholders and make better decisions when working with a variety of people out in the field.
“There’s a difference between intentional discrimination, bias, and prejudice, but there’s something underneath them all that’s called implicit bias, which is something you don’t even know you have,” HISD Chief of Police Paul Cordova said. “As police officers it’s important to have a pure, clean heart and mind to treat and serve our communities better.”
Beginning this month, the police instructors who attended the two-day instructor’s course will be tasked with training their fellow officers. The three-hour course, which is a federal initiative and promoted by the HISD Board of Education, is mandatory for all officers.
“This training was very eye-opening. It makes you think about how comfortable everybody is around you, and how comfortable your fellow coworkers are,” Cordova said. “Are we making those around us feel comfortable? Because our actions and ways of thinking can affect the well-being of others and their productivity at work.”
HISD Police Sergeant Melva DeAnda said she believes the training will help with improving police-community relations by building trust and increasing safety.
“The district is so diverse, with all kinds of languages, races, and nationalities — we’re a city on its own,” DeAnda said. “Hopefully this will help us in making better decisions. It’ll be good for us and our communities.”