By Jacqueline Quynh

DENVER (CBS4) – The independent panel that investigated Elijah McClain’s death highlighted a need for identifying policies with implicit bias. Implicit biases are thoughts and feelings people can have, but might not realize stem from stereotypes.

The panel’s research found patterns of implicit bias within the Aurora Police Department that included: the perception of people of color as more threatening, perception people of color have unusual strength, and indifference to the effect of officer’s use of force on people of color and the pain they experience.

READ MORE: Independent Investigation Into Elijah McClain's Death Complete, Major Aurora Police Changes Recommended

Elijah McClain (credit: CBS)

“Implicit bias is what you grew up around, who you grew up around, the groups that are your ‘in’ groups, the groups that you understand,” Joe Thurman, Interview IA CEO and Co-Founder said.

The panel highlighted a key problem that exists not only in policing, but in many other settings.

“When implicit bias drives decision making and the situation of a police officer that decision is how to interact with a suspect, the outcome can be obviously detrimental,” Thurman said.


(credit: CBS)

These biases often exist in the workplace.

“Most of the stories that cover people who look like me, it’s not about a technology CEO that’s trying to have a positive impact on the world, it’s about a young black man who committed a crime,” he related.

Thurman’s company helps to identify implicit biases in the hiring process.

(credit: Aurora)

“They have to separate the fact that, yes I am a young black man, but young black men do not always commit crimes,” he explained.

He told CBS4 the challenge is to make this a conscious separation in all situations.

“People ask, ‘how early should we begin teaching this?’ And the interesting thing is we’re already teaching it to kids in elementary schools, just by how they see us interact with different groups,” Thurman said.

Jacqueline Quynh