Minnesota Historical Society and Woodbury Police Work Together to Add a History Lens to Implicit Bias Training

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 31, 2019
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Minnesota Historical Society and Woodbury Police Work Together to Add a History Lens to Implicit Bias Training

Using ‘The 1968 Exhibit’ as a resource, 60+ officers explored the complex history of policing and community relations

In 2018, MNHS staff and the Woodbury Police collaborated to develop a new law enforcement training course titled “Appreciation of Diversity in Policing: Using History to Inform the Future.” The course was created to meet new learning objectives around implicit bias recently established by the Minnesota Legislature and Minnesota Police Officer Standards and Training Board (See PDF for background info). 

During the course, participants used “The 1968 Exhibit”—which recently closed at the Minnesota History Center—to examine relationships between police and communities in the 1960s and today. The Woodbury Police Department was also formed in 1968 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, which offered insights into the department’s own history. 
“Using ‘The 1968 Exhibit’ helped us to illustrate the systemic and historic nature of race relations, which provided a solid foundation to discuss current issues related to race and policing throughout the rest of the training,” said Chris Taylor, chief inclusion officer at MNHS.

This unique approach to training requirements rose out of a friendship between Taylor and Woodbury’s Sgt. Neil Bauer, who met while completing their Ph.D.s at the University of St. Thomas.

“Our department was very fortunate to participate in this training. It wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of Sgt. Neil Bauer and Chris Taylor,” said Woodbury Police Commander John Altman. “Their friendship and hard work created a unique and impactful, and enjoyable learning experience. Chris and Neil presented officers with an understanding on how history has influenced current relationships between police and the community, and provided insight on how to improve relationships.”

Sixty-two officers—nearly the entire Woodbury police force—completed the course over four sessions, exploring techniques to reduce the effect of implicit biases on behavior and developing strategies to combat bias and encourage positive community relations. Overall, the course prepared officers to develop improved relationships with the community and recognize how diversity and cultural differences influence police effectiveness. 

About Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.