Psychological Health of Police Officers a Critical Factor in Ethical Law Enforcement

Posted Aug. 12, 2015

MP3 Excerpt of talk by New Haven, Connecticut Assistant Police Chief Anthony Campbell, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus

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At least once a week, America wakes up to another police killing of an unarmed African American man or woman. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City and many others at the hands of police gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement last year, which challenged a law enforcement and judicial system that was unresponsive to obvious cases of racial bias.

A panel discussion, titled, "Sorry, It's the Law," that was held on July 28th in New Haven, Connecticut, addressed the topic of race relations examined through the lens of police officer's behavior. Among the panelists were a criminal defense attorney, two African American members of the Connecticut General Assembly, a community activist, an official with the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut and the New Haven Police Department's assistant police chief. Many stories were told about area citizens being stopped for the so called crime of "driving while black," including incidents where officers falsified the race of the person stopped in their report as white, in order to hide the common practice of racial profiling.

New Haven Assistant Police Chief Anthony Campbell, who is African American, has been a police officer for 18 years. In this excerpt from his talk, Campbell explains the psychological testing process used to weed out officers who may be unfit to serve. But although this testing is only conducted during the hiring process, he noted that once an officer is on the force, prejudices and hostility toward specific communities can change over time, which often leads to serious problems.

The forum was co-sponsored by My Brother's Keeper and the Anti-Racism Team of the Unitarian Society of New Haven at usnh.org.

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