Despite promises, not one New York City Police officer has received implicit bias training since a white cop used a chokehold that killed Eric Garner in 2014, Newsweek reported. This failure to follow through is particularly glaring after the sudden death of Garner’s civil rights activist daughter Erica Garner, and it calls attention to the disproportionate deaths of Black men from police excessive force.
“We are in the process of beginning the implicit bias training,” NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker said at a press briefing on Thursday, a promise that has been long delayed.
The vow to train officers to recognize their racial bias came after Eric Garner was killed, despite telling officers that he could not breathe. In 2014, former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said 22,000 officers were slated for a three-day course. Over the years, New York’s progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio, has pointed to the promised implicit bias course as part of his overall police retraining plan, sometimes hinting that the course was in place.
Here’s why the training is needed: Black men are nearly three times as likely as white men to be killed by police use of force. An analysis of 2010 to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Drexel University’s Dr. James Buehler confirmed the disparity. “People, including police officers, hold strong implicit associations between Blacks, and probably Hispanics, and weapons, crime and aggression,” Jack Glaser, a public policy professor at UC Berkeley, told CNN.
Erica Garner, 27, passed away after suffering an asthma attack on Dec. 23, which triggered a heart attack. She became a civil rights activist and high-profile critic of police brutality after her father’s death. Some experts argue that a three-day course is hardly enough to remove years of implicit racial bias. However, it’s a much-needed first step at a time when Attorney General Jeff Sessions is moving the Department of Justice in the opposite direction on police reforms.