The Importance of Implicit Bias and Cultural Competency Training

These days, equity is the topic of many ongoing conversations. Furthermore, people talk about the role of implicit bias and how its erasure can help us move toward equity. YWCA Northwestern Illinois is expanding its implicit bias and cultural competency training for law enforcement in Boone and Winnebago counties.

The purpose of these training sessions is to help members of law enforcement understand how bias is expressed personally, how bias is expressed professionally, and how negative biases are formed against people of various groups. These groups include people with mental and physical disabilities, observers of particular religions, and people of different ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, and socioeconomic classes.

Kris Machajewski, CEO of YWCA Northwestern Illinois, is a co-facilitator of these trainings. She said the trainings are important because implicit bias is both a law enforcement issue and a human issue.

"We try to help [law enforcement personnel] understand that their uniform is a trigger for people," Machajewski said. "Oftentimes, people of color who've had experiences [with law enforcement] carry triggers."

So far, 911 center employees, corrections staff and staff that are both sworn and unsworn have been able to participate in these training sessions. While a majority of the training has been in person, two of them were held virtually with an upcoming anti-racism training taking place later in March.

YWCA Northwestern Illinois has been working with police chiefs and sheriffs since 2013. Now, because of the Healing Illinois grant, they have expanded their training to complement the requirements that were already put in place. Machajewski felt that this was a great opportunity to expand the training and further engage with law enforcement.

To learn more about the law enforcement trainings, visit YWCA's website.

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