The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men And how to reform our bigoted brains.

We’re not born with racial prejudices. We may never even have been “taught” them. Rather, explains Nosek, prejudice draws on “many of the same tools that help our minds figure out what’s good and what’s bad.” In evolutionary terms, it’s efficient to quickly classify a grizzly bear as “dangerous.” The trouble comes when the brain uses similar processes to form negative views about groups of people.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice

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Police Body Cameras: What Do You See?

Interesting set of videos that shows you the limitations of what we can learn from body cameras on police officers. It also raises issues around how our prior knowledge, expectations, and experiences affect what we see when we interpret a given situation.

“This confirms what Professor Stoughton has found in his own presentations with judges, lawyers and students: What we see in police video footage tends to be shaped by what we already believe.

“‘Our interpretation of video is just as subject to cognitive biases as our interpretation of things we see live,’ Professor Stoughton said. ‘People disagree about policing and will continue to disagree about exactly what a video shows.’

“Race can also play a role. While Professor Stoughton’s work did not seek to determine how the race of the driver affected viewers’ conclusions, numerous studies have shown that some sort of conscious or unconscious bias is present in all of us, including law enforcement.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/04/01/us/police-bodycam-video.html

The curious grammar of police shootings

You’ll often see a similar grammatical device when a police officer shoots someone. Communications officers at policy agenies are deft at contorting the English language to minimize culpability of an officer or of the agency. So instead of  . . .

. . . Mayberry Dep. Barney Fife shot and killed a burglary suspect last night . . .

You’ll see . . .

 . . . last night, a burglary suspect was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/14/the-curious-grammar-of-police-shootings/

Witness Accounts in Midtown Hammer Attack Show the Power of False Memory

“The real world of our memory is made of bits of true facts, surrounded by holes that we Spackle over with guesses and beliefs and crowd-sourced rumors. On the dot of 10 on Wednesday morning, Anthony O’Grady, 26, stood in front of a Dunkin’ Donuts on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. He heard a ruckus, some shouts, then saw a police officer chase a man into the street and shoot him down in the middle of the avenue.

“There is no evidence that the mistaken accounts of either person were malicious or intentionally false. Studies of memories of traumatic events consistently show how common it is for errors to creep into confidently recalled accounts, according to cognitive psychologists.”

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/nyregion/witness-accounts-in-midtown-hammer-attack-show-the-power-of-false-memory.html?_r=0

This American Life Podcast: Cops See it Differently

A really amazing two part podcast about policing in the United States. Through the different parts of this podcast, we hear from police departments and officers around the country and how they’re dealing with the challenges they face. What’s fascinating about this is the role of perspective and how different experiences affect how people see different situations. Part 2 Act 2 discusses the implicit association test and what a police department is doing about how to deal with implicit bias while policing. Part 2 Prologue is an interesting and short bit about a reporter watching the Eric Garner video with a friend who is a police officer and how the two of them see completely different things and interpret the video in very different ways.

Below are links for the full episodes.

Part I

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/547/cops-see-it-differently-part-one

Part II

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/548/cops-see-it-differently-part-two

Here’s How Differently The Media Covers An Assault Before And After Learning It Was Done By A Cop

“The next day, the police released images of the attacker and asked the public for help identifying him. The New York Daily News ran the story in their typically sensationalist way. They described the man as a “brute” and a “thug” and described the incident in lurid detail and begged for readers to help ID the coward who attacked the woman and “ran away smiling.”

The problem? The man turned out to be an off-duty NYPD police officer and the New York Daily Newslike almost every other media outlet in the country — liberal or conservative — has a completely different set of rules for covering police officers accused of committing a crime. By the next day, the story had been cleaned up.”

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/01/04/heres-how-differently-the-media-covers-an-assault-before-and-after-learning-it-was-done-by-a-cop/

Across America, whites are biased and they don’t even know it

“Most white Americans demonstrate bias against blacks, even if they’re not aware of or able to control it. It’s a surprisingly little-discussed factor in the anguishing debates over race and law enforcement that followed the shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers. Such implicit biases — which, if they were to influence split-second law enforcement decisions, could have life or death consequences — are measured by psychological tests, most prominently the computerized Implicit Association Test, which has been taken by over two million people online at the website Project Implicit.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/08/across-america-whites-are-biased-and-they-dont-even-know-it/?tid=sm_fb