The Delta Police Department is launching a new training program, the first of its kind in B.C., to address "unconscious bias" when officers deal with the public.

Unintentional bias of police officers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside led to dozens of unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, according to former Attorney General Wally Oppal.

A province-wide program on reducing police officers' unconscious bias is in the works, but Delta is the first jurisdiction to implement its own.

"We all do have biases. Whether a police officer interacts with an intoxicated homeless man, or the mayor of their city, we want both of those individuals to be treated with the same level of dignity and respect," said Melissa Granum, trainer at the Delta Police Department's Fair and Impartial policing program.

Trainers teaches officers how to recognize their own biases based on ethnicity, socio-economic background, class, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, age and more.

Overriding biases

Garnum says the training is not meant to address officer safety or behaviour during life and death situations. Trainers teach employees how to override their bias during day-to-day interactions with the public.

"When we have civilian staff at the front line dealing with people who walk up to the front counter or at victim services… there are number of different ways we come into contact with the public," she said.


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: 'Unconscious' bias in policing.