Four community conversations on "implicit bias" are going to be held throughout Albany.
Implicit bias is defined as the bias in judgment and/or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes that are often subconscious and unintentional.
Organizers characterize the conversations as "crucial" and say they are open to all residents. Fliers have been distributed and word has been spread on social media.
First Ward Common Council Member Dorcey Applyrs says the meetings are geared toward fostering good relations between police and community. "This work is a direct result of community forums that happened over the winter in which there were incidents happening around the country as it related to brutality in some cases, police brutality, and so from those community forums during the winter there was a push to have more initiatives that would help repair and restore trust between our residents and our police department."
Applyrs says the conversations will give residents a platform to share their own experiences involving implicit bias. Albany police chief Brendan Cox says the department has been conducting implicit bias training for officers. "Implicit bias is something everybody has, it's something that if we recognize we have it and we figure out ways to make sure it’s something that does not come into our decision-making we can make things better. And it's really important to us, especially with the community-policing model, that we also work with the community on the same issues. So not only is it the police department is getting trained, but that we also work with our community so they understand their biases, 'cause we certainly at times wind up being put in a place where we're getting a call or something's going on and there's more to it than that's apparent, so, we really wanna work with the community, to help train them, the same way we train ourselves, on truly being better citizens."
The Center for Law and Justice is one of the groups participating in the forums. For the past 30 years, the Center has been serving the low-income and disadvantaged communities of New York through education and advocacy.
Cox points out that bias isn't limited to race. It's about making a snap judgment against a certain person or group, influenced by one's background, culture, environment and personal experiences. "And it doesn't matter who you are, how old you are, what race you are, what religion you are, everyone has implicit bias, and we need to address that."
The police department will have representatives at all four meetings. Applyrs will also attend all four events. "There is a coalition of community members who have worked on these, planning these conversations in partnership with the mayor and the police chief, and so this partnership is a collective effort that has went into hosting these community conversations across the city."
The first community conversation is Friday from 6-8 p.m. at the Arbor Hill Community Center. The other dates are listed below. (Click on image to enlarge).