Monday, September 23, 2019

Patterns Show Systemic Problems

A few years ago, Wells Fargo made the news with its scandal of opening up accounts for their clients unbeknownst to the clients...and then charging them ‘maintenance’ fees on those accounts, creating additional profits for Wells Fargo. The top executive for the bank tried to blame “rogue employees” but since the problem showed up in multiple branches across many geographic areas, the problem was not individual employees. It was a systemic problem: a company goal, company policy, company procedure, company incentive, company pressure, company reward for certain behaviors, company shared practices to meet goals, etc.

Similarly, with police shootings of minorities half the time (disproportionally higher than demographics would indicate), there’s a systemic reason for it. If you’re white, you have 1/3 less chance of being shot by police proportional to your population. If you’re black, you’re twice as likely (25% of the shootings while 13% of the population). And it’s not more or less likely in any geographic area. So what is it about hiring, developing police officers in all areas of the country that leads to the similar result.

There’s been psychological work that we tend to believe others are telling us the truth. However, popular views of police attitudes are that they believe others are lying to them. So they tend not to believe what you’re saying—so much for “innocent until proven guilty”. Would this distort your interactions with the community and lead you to react to certain situations in an adverse manner more than others would react?

When I was in quality assurance departments, I believed all of our product was defective because that was the “entire population” of what I reviewed. I had to constantly remind myself that I’m not interacting with 99.5% of the good population of product.

Perhaps a change in our policing systems is to have a rotation where officers have a chance to interact with non-criminal people in the communities so they get a balanced and proportional exposure to the people in their city.

No comments:

Post a Comment