Trumbull workers to have 'implicit bias' training?

Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. Aug. 24, 2017.
Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. Aug. 24, 2017.Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL  — The town's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce is giving it the old college try to start training town employees in recognizing implicit bias. Literally,

The Trumbull Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce is looking into a recommendation for implicit bias training, with some help from Southern CT State Professor Rick Bolton and his students.

Bolton, a task force member, is planning to have his students research the effects of such training in other municipalities. The group could then formulate its own recommendation.

"I'm expecting that there's going to be six very nice research projects coming to us very quickly, to let us know what at least six local communities are doing," Bolton said.

Should Trumbull adopt such training, it would join the Trumbull police, which already has an implicit bias training program.

EDIT is currently considering a recommendation for an implicit bias training program to town employees, with some help from a Bolton and his students. While nothing concrete has been offered, First Selectman Vicki Tesoro is expecting to see a proposal from EDIT. If Trumbull ends up accepting a proposal, it would join Trumbull police which already has an implicit bias training program.

The taskforce has been considering its exact role in town for a while according to Jonathan Tropp, the vice chair. While the panel has had issues with its direction in the past, it is beginning to move forward with the research phase. 

"We are still in the process of exploring the scope of the training," said Tara Figueroa, another EDIT member. "Preferably we would be able to have a series of trainings and collect participant feedback throughout to ensure it's resonating and helpful."

Implicit bias training is designed to help organizations and government institutions mitigate unconscious feelings and attitudes toward certain groups of people. According to the National League of Cities, a professional organization of municipal employees and elected officials, the training can help manage such bias and reduce harm to diverse communities. 

"I'm confident that unconscious bias or implicit bias training (specifically) would benefit all employees interfacing with the public," Figueroa said.

While nothing is set in stone, and EDIT's recommendations are likely months award, Tesoro said she would give the proposal its due consideration.

"I look forward to seeing the proposal of the EDIT committee and having a good discussion with the committee and the town's HR department," Tesoro said.

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