Fair & Impartial Policing: Dr Lorie Fridell - Building Trust between the Community and the Police

The shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri by a local police officer has resulted in angry protests by the local community.  The riots and unrest in Ferguson are also a painful reminder of the importance to police of having the trust and confidence of the communities that they serve.   Community policing, a collaboration between the police and the local community to identify and solve community problem, requires building and sustaining trusting relationships between the community and the police.  Without trust between the community and the police, effective policing is difficult, if not impossible, and biased policing and the perceptions of it are major sources of police-community estrangement around the country.       

Dr. Lorie Fridell, an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida, is a national expert on biased policing.  When she consults with and trains for police agencies in North America she is guided by the science of how biases and prejudice manifest.  Social psychologists who study prejudice distinguish between “explicit” and “implicit” biases and report that, in modern times, people are more likely to manifest implicit, rather than explicit, biases.  Through implicit biases, we link people to the stereotypes associated with their groups--whether that grouping is based on gender, sexual orientation, race or other factors.  These   biases can impact on our perceptions and behavior outside of our conscious awareness, even in people who, at the conscious level, reject prejudice and stereotyping.  Very much related to policing is the implicit bias that links African Americans to aggressiveness and criminal behavior.  In police, this can lead an officer to perceive more danger and threat from an African American male than a White male, even without additional indicators.  This may lead to over-vigilance with African American males.  On the other hand, some biases can lead officers to be under-vigilant, for instance with women, Asians and the elderly.   

The former Director of Research at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Dr. Fridell developed the science-based Fair and Impartial Policing Training Program with specific curricula for police recruits, patrol officers, first-line supervisors, trainers and command staff.  This approach helps departments to produce fair and impartial policing and enhance public trust and confidence in police.  

For more information on Dr. Fridell and her work on impartial policing, see her websites at http://criminology.cbcs.usf.edu/facultyStaff/bio.cfm?ID=42 and http://fairandimpartialpolicing.com

For a recent news interview with Dr. Fridell regarding the violence in Ferguson, see the Tampa Bay Online.