Eric Holder believes all cops are racists, targets ‘unconscious bias’

By Paul Sperry
December 7, 2014 | 9:40am

Following the Eric Garner verdict, New York cops can look forward to having their heads examined for “unconscious bias” by federal thought police unleashed by Attorney General Eric Holder.

The NYPD can expect to undergo the same kind of “de-biasing” training that Holder put departments in Seattle, New Orleans, St. Louis and several other cities through while investigating them for alleged civil rights violations.
Federal trainers teach cops not only to think twice about stopping or questioning suspects of color, but also to ignore signs of criminal behavior and threat indicators they’ve gleaned from years of street experience. That puts their own lives in danger — and risks the safety of residents.
The Justice Department’s unprecedented shift from prosecuting intentional discrimination to investigating unconscious or “implicit” bias began long before Ferguson, Mo. It’s part of a “racial justice” movement launched by the Obama administration to “reform” the criminal justice system.
In the past five years, Holder has more than doubled the number of police department probes compared with the previous five years, opening more than 20 investigations and pressuring 15 consent orders to stop “biased policing” and other alleged violations.
What’s striking about these federally mandated orders is the lack of evidence investigators found to show cops stopped and arrested black people simply because of bias. They assumed, but couldn’t prove, they targeted blacks due to an automatic and unfair association between them and crime and not because they actually committed crimes.

Take the Seattle Police Department, which Justice alleged engaged in a “pattern and practice” of discrimination toward blacks.
The feds based their findings largely on “implicit bias,” arguing cops “subconsciously” discriminated by making “disproportionate stops of non-whites.”

“Biased policing,” Justice explained in its findings letter to the Seattle PD, “is not primarily about the ill-intentioned officer but rather the officer who engages in discriminatory practices subconsciously,” adding that even a well-meaning cop can violate the civil rights of black suspects by operating “on implicit biases that impact that officer’s behavior or perceptions.”
The department said “many in the community perceive that pedestrian stops are overused and target minorities.” It admits it couldn’t verify the accuracy of the complaints and never bothered to get the cops’ side of the story.
In a 2012 consent decree, Holder ordered Seattle to soften its use-of-force rules and train brass and rank and file alike in “bias-free” policing that recognizes and eliminates “implicit bias,” while disciplining any conduct tied to it.

The rules, which fully went into effect this year, have led to “de-policing.”
The result? Crime is up in the Emerald City.
Since Holder stepped in, crime is up 13% overall in Seattle. But it’s not just minor infractions. It’s the biggies — aggravated assaults up 14%, car theft up a whopping 44% and murders up 21%.
More than 120 Seattle police officers, detectives and sergeants have filed a lawsuit against Holder, claiming his de-biasing order has jeopardized their own safety.
The 80-page suit, filed in US District Court, contends the reforms have created “hesitation and paralysis” among officers, robbing them of their ability to make reasonable, split-second judgments in the line of duty.
“There is evidence of a dramatic decrease in proactive police work to investigate and stop crime,” the suit says.
Officers have stopped wearing Tasers and responding to backup calls out of fear their actions will be second-guessed by federal bias monitors. Beat cops have even retreated from suspects “who threatened [them] with death or serious injury.”
“These are not problems that can be tweaked, adjusted to or trained around with ‘self-analysis,’ ” the police complaint asserts.
Such “unconscious bias” training forces cops to “engage in mental gymnastics wholly unreasonable in light of the dangerous and fast-evolving circumstances we face every day,” it adds. “This creates unnecessary risks to safety.”
Some of the directives are bizarre.
In Las Vegas, police have banned patrol officers from touching African-American suspects during foot chases. Only partners uninvolved in the chase can step in and use force to arrest the fleeing perp.
In Fayetteville, NC, where Justice started retraining cops in October, searches of black suspects are no longer allowed — even when the suspect gives consent. “Hot-spot” policing in high-crime neighborhoods is also considered biased against blacks.
Social psychologist Lorie Fridell is credited with pioneering the “unconscious bias” theory in policing. She developed her “Fair and Impartial Policing” program with generous grants from Holder’s department and has trained officers in more than 250 precincts and agencies across the country, including Seattle’s.
Like Holder, Fridell wants to ban all criminal profiling that takes a suspect’s race into account. She believes legal definitions of unlawful discrimination are “outdated” and should be broadened to include even unquantifiable prejudice against people of color that occurs “outside our conscious awareness.”
While she admits the link between blacks and crime is statistically strong — African-Americans commit 53% of all murders and are 10 times more likely to commit violent crimes than whites — she trains cops to resist that “stereotype.”
According to her PowerPoint presentations, she recommends routinely testing cops for implicit bias and “unlearning” their experience associating blacks with crime through positive role-playing exercises.
Such exercises involve creating scenarios where black people help cops, while white people act as the bad guys. They also associate images of blacks with the word “safe.”
By retraining cops’ minds to perceive blacks as less of a threat, Fridell hopes they’ll be less likely to use lethal force against black suspects.
Problem is, she’s never produced any empirical results to prove her theories actually work to reduce discriminatory policing. She admits it’s impossible to look at the actions of an individual cop and know for certain they were influenced by prejudice.
President Obama speaks with elected officials, law enforcement officials and community and faith leaders about building trust between police and the communities they serve.Photo: AP
Some local black law enforcement officials say the notion cops target blacks out of bigotry is wrong. “Every complaint I’ve ever gotten that suggests that an officer is out there making stops and making law-enforcement decisions based solely on race has turned [out] not to be true,” said Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Democrat.
It’s not clear if the NYPD will, like other cities, undertake such federal training for all its officers and cadets. But Mayor Bill de Blasio recently met with President Obama and Holder on the subject.
And the judge who last year put the brakes on the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice in high-crime minority areas recommended “unconscious racial bias” training in her ruling.
In a recent article, in fact, Fridell praised US District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who in a widely criticized decision wrote, “Unconscious bias could help explain the otherwise puzzling fact that NYPD officers check ‘furtive movements’ in 48% of the stops of blacks . . . but only 40% of whites.”
In prescribing “remedies” for the NYPD, Scheindlin suggested “it may . . . be appropriate to conduct training for officers on the effect of unconscious racial bias.”
In other words: Don’t even think about making an arrest.
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “The Great American Bank Robbery,” which exposes the racial politics behind the housing crisis.


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