Democrat Introduces Bill to Address Implicit Bias, ‘Thoughts and Feelings’ of Police Officers

A Democratic state representative has introduced a bill to “recognize and address implicit bias” among law enforcement officers in the Lone Star State.

House Bill (HB) 312 by Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) — who was among Speaker Dade Phelan’s outspoken supporters on the Texas House floor when he was elected to the position on Tuesday — would amend the Occupations Code to require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to administer an implicit bias training program that law enforcement officers would be required to complete within two years of licensure.

The training would be mandatory as part of the “minimum curriculum requirements.”

The bill defines “implicit bias” as “bias in an individual’s thoughts and feelings about social groups that can influence the individual’s perceptions, decision, and actions; and often operate outside the individual’s conscious awareness and without intent.”

Under the legislation, the training program would have to involve at least “four hours of classroom instruction,” and outlines parameters for the content of the training.

“The training program must […] critically examine common stereotypes and cultural assumptions often held by communities and the officers who serve those communities,” the bill reads.

The proposal is among others introduced in the Texas Legislature to address criticisms of the police arising partially due to high-profile incidents that have occurred in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. 

For example, HB 54 and Senate Bill 223 would preclude law enforcement agencies from contracting with producers to create reality TV shows after a Pflugerville man died in Austin during a car chase accompanied by a film crew.

The Texan has reached out to Collier’s office for comment.

Implicit Bias Training in the Medical Profession

There are also pieces of legislation regarding implicit bias training directed toward the medical profession. 

HB 194 would mandate continuing education courses for medical doctors on “cultural competence and implicit bias” upon the renewal of the physician’s medical license. The bill appears to apply to most doctors, saying the requirements apply to any physician who “practices in the area of general practice, pediatrics, obstetrics, or gynecology.” A similar bill, HB 197, would incorporate such instruction into medical coursework in addition to continuing education requirements.

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