Norco offers implicit bias training to all county law enforcement agencies

Written by on April 7, 2021

 Norco offers implicit bias training to all county law enforcement agencies 

By Tyler Pratt

April 7, 2021

Photo by Pexels

Northampton County is now offering implicit bias training to local police departments as part of the county’s response to both national and local protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Listen to the story.

Speaking Tuesday in the Rotunda at the Northampton County Government Center, County Executive Lamont McClure said while it’s not the main function of the county to provide policing, it is funding training that all law enforcement agencies in the county can use.

“To begin a conversation as to what we could do to make the lives of people of color a little bit better in Northampton County,” McClure said.

Implicit bias training is education that raises awareness of unconscious prejudices that can affect our daily interactions. InterseKt Alliance is the organization that will run the program.

Guillermo Lopez of InterseKt says the program will also include crisis intervention training.

“Our communities are in crisis, we’re swimming in trauma,” Lopez said.  “The more often that we practice – I know we call them crisis intervention skills – but I think they are actually soft skills,” Lopez says. 

“Soft skills,” like listening, are often learned after many years on the job, he says, and he’d like them to be an earlier part of officer training. 

“They’re skills that increase empathy. Skills that gain trust and I think those are the things that’s really critically missing right now between communities and police,” Lopez says. 

This involves teaching de-escalation tactics for situations where officers interact with the public, he says, and in some cases avoiding an altercation by having a better understanding of what a person might be going through at the moment. 

“We also work to help them understand that there’s a difference between being unsafe and being uncomfortable,” Lopez says, “And in many situations being uncomfortable doesn’t mean you are unsafe.” 

The aim is to reduce the risk of violence during police interactions, McClure says.

“Everyone wants to go home safely, at the end of a shift and your interaction with law enforcement,” McClure says. “Everyone should go home safely, or to prison safely if that’s what’s required.” 

The money Northampton County is providing, $20,000 from the Human Services Department, will fund 20 trainings through June, McClure says. 

County officials say so far, the police departments that have requested training include Bethlehem and Nazareth as well as Palmer and Bethlehem townships and the Colonial Regional Police

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