Oregon Police Department detective William Jansen told the Observer he believes you should never judge a book by its cover.
It’s a lesson Jansen applies to everyday interactions now that he has undergone a training about implicit biases and how to confront them. He offered the example of an officer breaking up a skirmish and how things could easily get out of hand.
“The officer might come off as ignorant and short-fused because they might have just come off a fatal crash,” Jansen said. “The person involved in the fight … they might have just been assaulted.”
After taking a two-day course on implicit bias from Fair and Impartial Policing, LLC last month, Jansen is certified to train Oregon police officers about how to confront and mitigate theirs for two years. How he will train them has yet to be determined, Jansen and police chief Jennifer Pagenkopf said.
The term implicit bias refers to the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner – and might encompass both favorable and unfavorable judgements about another person on the basis of their race, creed, age or gender, according to simplypsychology.org.
Pagenkopf said she hopes the training will help implement unbiased responses and “promote fair and impartial policing in (officers’) daily work,” she wrote in an Aug. 11 email to Village of Oregon trustees at their Aug. 17 meeting.
Policing standards and implicit bias have become hot topics nationally since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Jansen said he couldn’t understand how officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, “could betray their badge.”
“I volunteered to go to this training,” Jansen said. “The George Floyd incident hit me hard.”
Jansen and Pagenkopf concurred that’s what makes this anti-bias work that much more significant for the village.
Pagenkopf said there is chaos in the national sphere that is rising tensions between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and law enforcement, but said it’s on police to make their communities feel safe.
“We have to remain calm in the storm,” she said.
Jansen has training experience, having instructed officers about active threats, standardized field sobriety and vehicle contacts, Pagenkopf wrote in the email to trustees.
According to the Fair and Impartial Policing, LLC, website, the agency has provided implicit bias-awareness training to state, local, federal and university police organizations. Its 2019 curriculum discusses how biases can manifest in policing, provides examples of biased policing and examines what biases look like beyond race and ethnicity.
The website states the agency’s trainers are “sworn police professionals and they are some of the top … in the nation in terms of their ability to engage police audiences.”