Confirmation bias: A barrier to community policing
Keywords:police-community relations, police, trust
This is a very challenging time for police–community relations, one characterized by a mutual lack of trust between police and citizens. But trust is an important tenet of effective community policing. Trust between police and communities can result in better problem solving, fewer legal violations by citizens, less frequent use of force by the police, less resistance by citizens during arrests, greater willingness to share information, less inclination to riot, and greater willingness of community members and police to cooperate. One key obstacle to fostering trust between the community and police is confirmation bias—the tendency for people to take in information and process it in a way that confirms their current preconceptions, attitudes, and beliefs. Recognizing and addressing confirmation bias, therefore, plays a critical role in fostering more productive engagement. If we are to improve police–community relations and co-create a way forward, learning to approach debates with open minds, an awareness of the lens of our own perspectives, commitment to considering the opposite, and the goal of listening with curiosity are essential.
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