Justice Department to Mandate 'Unconscious Bias' Training

FBI Raid San Francisco
June 28, 2016

The U.S. Justice Department will mandate its employees to undergo training on how to prevent "implicit biases" from affecting their judgment.

The training will involve more than 33,000 federal agents and prosecutors, and will begin in 2017, Reuters reported Monday, citing a new memo from the Department.

"The Department of Justice has a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and impartial," Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said in a memo to employees.

"Given that the research is clear that most people experience some degree of unconscious bias, and that the effects of that bias can be countered by acknowledging its existence and utilizing response strategies, it is essential that we provide implicit bias training to all of our prosecutors and law enforcement agents," she added.

All Justice Department agents and prosecutors will be required to take the training, including more than 23,000 FBI, DEA, ATF, and U.S. Marshals Service agents, along with 5,800 federal attorneys.

The anti-bias training was developed by the Police Executive Research Forum, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that works to improve policing, Reuters reported. It is intended to make officials aware of unconscious biases they may have toward different races, genders, and religious groups.

Yates, who will have to take the training as well, said Monday the DOJ decided to implement the program over the next year after its success on local levels.

"The program has been so well-received by our state and local counterparts, we thought it was something we should be offering to our federal agents, frankly, to get our own house in order," she told Reuters.

She expressed hope that other federal agencies would implement similar plans.