Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #142
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Diversity submission Why So Racist? A Function-Based and Organizational Assessment and Interventions for Policing
Saturday, May 28, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 156B
Area: CSS/OBM; Domain: Theory
Chair: Shawn Capell (Covenant 15:16 LLC )
Discussant: Ryan Sain (Mary Baldwin University )
CE Instructor: Ryan Sain, Ph.D.

The racial differentiation of policing in America has been widely researched and documented (Walker et al., 2008; Wilson et al., 1982; Eck et al., 1987; Braga et al., 1999). While these discrepancies have been largely documented, few changes have been made to the policies, procedures and law governing police officers, leading to the continuation of racist acts displayed by police officers across the country. The reasons for this are plentiful and the issues are symptoms of the larger problems of individual and institutional racism that increases the likeliness any police officer will engage in violence against a person of color. This symposium describes how individual racism is learned and strengthened and a functional perspective of the historical development of policing in America followed by suggestions about how these systems can be redeveloped and improved.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): police functions, racism
Target Audience:

This is appropriate for any level of behavior analyst or behavior analyst trainee who is interested in systems theory and how functional assessment can play a role in system and reinforcement of individual behavior.

Learning Objectives: 1. The learner will identify the common functions of policing in the United States. 2. The learner will identify how differential responding of officers to different groups of citizens develops and is maintained. 3. The learner will identify at least three ways behavior analysis can address the behavior of police officers to decrease differential responding between groups of individuals. 4. The learner will identify at least one organizational behavior management (OBM) strategy that can be used to decrease differential responding of police officers.
Diversity submission 

The Function of the Police Force: A Behavior Analytic Review of the History of How Policing in America Came to Be

NATALIE A. PARKS (Behavior Leader Inc.; Saint Louis University), Beverly Kirby (Team ABA LLC)

While the racial differentiation of policing in America has been widely researched and documented (Walker & Katz, 2008; Wilson & Kelling, 1982; Eck & Spelman, 1987; Braga, et al., 1999), there have been few changes within the policies, procedures and laws governing police officers. This has resulted in the continuation of individual acts of racism of police officers across the country and has upheld the systemic racism that results in the discrepancies between Black people and White people. To fully understand and develop effective interventions that will change policing behaviors and the racism observed within the police force, one must first understand the historical development and functional variables that maintain policing in America.

Diversity submission Solutions Addressing the Vulnerability of Individual and Institutional Racism in Police Departments
BEVERLY KIRBY (Team ABA LLC), Natalie A. Parks (Behavior Leader Inc.; Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Understanding the history and function of policing brings insight into the main areas to target for intervention when attempting to eliminate racism within policing and the the police force. This presentation focuses on suggestions regarding how to change and redevelop the system and functions of policing in America to decrease and eliminate specific and systemic acts of racism.



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