Police Video Game May Question Racial Bias

Some local police feel recent shootings are not just about race

A video game used in police training may have your questioning your own bias. Through a series of pictures, the player has to make split second decisions.

If you think the man in the game is carrying a gun, you need to press "L" to shoot and "A" to avoid shooting an unarmed man. Hesitate and you lose points.

Developed by researchers at University of Colorado, researchers say volunteer players are more likely to mistakenly shoot an unarmed man if he is black and race of the game player does not seem to matter. Americans of all races view the black men as more threatening. Researchers say police offices who play the game perform better than the average American player.

With eight police officers shot and killed in two cities in just over a week, some officers in the Boston area feel that the shootings are not just about race.

In a ride along with Wellesley Police Department Patrolman Ron Poirer, he says with everything going on now right now, tensions are high and tone and approach are key.

I explain who I am, tell them immediately why I pulled them over, ask for license and registration, said Poirer.

Officers are trained to know and understand their own bias. Poirer says the key is to listen. He explains being trained in critical response taught him to 'slow down.'

"Active listening is huge," Porier said. "Let them get their feelings out and empathize.

Dr. Zine Magubane, a professor at Boston College says that everyone has bias and that all human beings make judgements. Magubane lived in South Africa while Nelson Mandela was president.

During that time it was similar to when Obama became president," Magubane recalled. "Everyone was full of hope feeling great about being south African.

Now a professor at Boston College, Magubane's father was a political activist. She was born as they fled the country. Magubane says part of the blame for racial tension is economic trouble and a stressed system of healthcare, unemployment and education. She says its not about bias and race.

Like the societies that believe in witchcraft, it can come to stand for everything," Magubane said. "Why the crop failed, why that person died, why am I infertile. All of that is witchcraft and we are similar with racism. Every problem a person has with another if not their race, people call a problem of race.

You can test your own bias here by playing the video game used in police training by going to the University of Colorado's website: http://trib.al/a5WKBoc

Contact Us