This training exercise, like everything else at Urban Shield, seems to exist in a world where the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement never happened. The event has remained impervious to the national debate over lethal force in policing, and still promotes the militarized tactics for which it is often criticized. The 2016 training immersed officers in 48 hours of mass-casualty scenarios requiring use of force, and offered no discussion of de-escalation, mental health, or unconscious bias.When I asked officers at Urban Shield 2016 whether anything had changed in response to BLM, I was met with puzzlement, denial, or annoyance.“I don’t see how Black Lives Matter is relevant,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly, an Urban Shield spokesperson from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office who rejected the idea that racial bias might ever factor into emergency responses. “We’re going to treat an active shooter the same regardless of their background.”“I don’t see how Black Lives Matter is relevant.”But Kelly may be wrong about that. Several studies have found evidence of racial bias when police use force in community policing contexts. Racial bias could play a role in an active shooter crisis, just as it does in other police interactions.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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