DOJ to institute mandatory bias training

Thousands of Justice Department workers soon will receive mandatory training developed by a controversial group in order to eliminate “implicit biases” in their law enforcement judgment, Reuters reported Monday, citing DOJ officials.

More than 33,000 federal agents and prosecutors are set to get the training, which will begin in 2017, though Department of Homeland Security employees are exempt. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is scheduled to announce the program in Phoenix on Tuesday, a DOJ official told Reuters.

“Implicit bias also presents unique challenges to effective law enforcement, because it can alter where investigators and prosecutors look for evidence and how they analyze it without their awareness or ability to compensate,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said in a memo obtained by Reuters.

The DOJ decision follows the examples of many local police departments that instituted similar bias training in the wake of several protests over racially-charged police actions that gained national attention.

The bias training was largely developed by the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington think tank which recently came under fire from law enforcement groups for its recommendations on use-of-force situations, including suggestions such as imagining public perception.

“We’re not going to stand by and let police officers be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness,” Executive Director of the Fraternal Order of Police Jim Pasco told CBS in February.

But despite police advocates protesting previous PERF proposals, Yates said DOJ felt the need to start the federal training following its implementation at lower levels.

“The program has been so well-received by our state and local counterparts, we thought it was something we should be offering to our federal agents, frankly, to get our own house in order,” she told Reuters.

Yates, who will have to undergo the training herself, said she hopes the DOJ initiative catches on with other federal departments.

In a similar vein, the Justice Department had previously released guidance to combat gender bias in relation to sex assault and domestic violence cases.