Don't Shoot: Police and Overcoming Implicit Racial Bias

12 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2014 Last revised: 22 Apr 2020

See all articles by Valena Elizabeth Beety

Valena Elizabeth Beety

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: September 10, 2014


Ferguson. New York. Cleveland. Increasing deaths of unarmed African-American men – at the hands of police.

News articles relay how Ferguson is similar to many economically and racially divided towns across America. Most police academies now have trainings on cultural diversity, the majority of departments have policies on racial profiling, and many departments focus on hiring people of color as officers. And yet accusations continue to plague police officers of using unnecessary violence against unarmed African-American men.

The pervasive root problem of racial bias influences the use of force by citizen gun-owners and police officers alike. This essay advocates the training of both police officers and citizen-gun owners. This proposition draws together implicit bias research with shooting simulation trainings. The essay examines not only the underlying influence of bias, but also trainings and exercises available to reduce the association of people of color with fear, and violent response with impulse. Indeed, the Department of Justice has brought in trainers for the Ferguson police. Hopefully, these shooting simulation trainings focused specifically on race may promise a path to safer communities.

Keywords: implicit racial bias, police, law enforcement, gun-owners, guns, safety

Suggested Citation

Beety, Valena Elizabeth, Don't Shoot: Police and Overcoming Implicit Racial Bias (September 10, 2014). WVU Law Research Paper No. 2014-5, Available at SSRN: or

Valena Elizabeth Beety (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics