Challenges of Conscious and Unconscious Bias in the Police Force

Michellene Davis, Executive Vice Pesident & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at RWJBarnabas Health and Camelia Valdes, Prosecutor for Passaic County New Jersey, discuss the challenges of conscious and unconscious bias in the police force and community. Davis and Valdes aslo stress the importance of having an open and honest dialogue about how the police/minority relationship can be mended.

1/14/17 #639






"We're now joined by Michellene Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer RWJBarnabas Health. And we're also joined by the prosecutor of the great county of Passaic, Camelia Valdes. I want to thank both of you for joining us. We just finished a very in-depth... I'm not gonna say heated... but a pretty candid conversation, called Building Trust: Race, Police and the Community. Michellene, we started this conversation offline a long time ago. Prosecutor, you know this conversation. You are from this community, the city of Newark. You're from Camden. You know this issue well. Describe the conversation we just had with 12 really important, significant, and caring folks about police/minority relations. Hmm. I think that the discussion that we had this afternoon is one which needs to occur in every community, in every town, in every city across the nation. Really, it was a discussion where individuals were able to put down their title but take up the alms of being committed to creating a better society. So it was a candid, frank discussion about, what tools we've utilized thus far, where we are right now, and the road that we have to travel. What was your biggest takeaway? I was encouraged by what I heard in there because we talked openly and honestly about the very difficult challenges when we talk about the intersection or race, police, and community. And it is a multi-layered discussion. And I think you assembled a tremendous cross-section of professionals that are really working in this field. And so we are all working towards the same goal. Our roles look different. And that's why it's important that we talk to one another. I'm encouraged by a lot of the things that I heard in there because it's the same. If you really peel back the layers, people are concerned about violence, they're concerned about communities. And there are concerns about how do we move forward from where we are. We had folks from law enforcement, religious community, healthcare community, Ras Baraka, the mayor of the great city of Newark, a part of it, but also racial and ethnic, gender diversity. That's not the norm out there, is it? Unfortunately, it is not, Steve, you know? So what does that produce when people just talk to folks who look like themselves? You know, I'm sorry for interrupting, but go ahead. No, not at all. I think that, you know, what's interesting is the fact that we are all human. And so what you had in that room were individuals who are willing to push past their own humanity..."