Amid mounting criticism, Gov. Charlie Baker Tuesday defended a proposal — tucked inside a larger bill to create a state certification system for law enforcement officers — to provide up to $5,000 bonuses for police to take on additional training.
“It’s for people who go above and beyond with respect to what they’re required to do under our proposal,” Baker said during a press conference. “And I don’t expect many to do it, but I think it’s important. If you want people to up their game, if you want people to perform at a higher level, if you want people to do a better job in serving the communities they represent and to be leaders with respect to the way they do that, it’s not unusual to create a modest incentive for them to do that.”
Local activists are, understandably, outraged at this proposal, which is, uhh, quite literally the opposite of the "Defund the Police" cry that many of them have been championing.
Existing anti-bias training programs for police are not particularly known for being effective, although it is certainly a profitable venture — and not just for the officers who take the governor up on that $5000 incentive. I'm also not sure why Baker thinks anyone wouldn't take him up on the offer for an easy $5K. A few weeks ago, I shared a blog post from a self-proclaimed former bastard cop, who had this to say (among other things):
Let me tell you what probably won’t solve the problem of bastard cops:
Increased “bias” training. A quarterly or even monthly training session is not capable of covering over years of trauma-based camaraderie in police forces. I can tell you from experience, we don’t take it seriously, the proctors let us cheat on whatever “tests” there are, and we all made fun of it later over coffee.
While I recognize that this is just anecdotal evidence, it seems pretty convincing to me when paired alongside all of the other available data.
Here's a fun thought exercise: imagine what would happen if, instead of over-funding useless sensitivity trainings, governors like Baker invested all that money into the communities that are most heavily policed, which are almost certainly the ones that are also dealing with the most poverty and other related issues stemming from that.
A better world is possible. But it doesn't come from an increased police state.
Charlie Baker defends proposal for police bonuses within reform bill as criticism mount [Christopher Gavin / Boston.com]
Officers already get training to deal with biases they may not know they have, but there's no evidence it actually works [Rhea Mahbubani / Insider.com]
Can Cops Unlearn Their Unconscious Biases? [Tom James / The Atlantic]
Image: Public Domain