California Attorney. General Kamala Harris (2nd from left) with Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones (far left), Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell (right), and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck (far right).
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced a statewide training program aimed at reducing biases by police officers when interacting with civilians within their communities. The program’s goal is to get officers to enforce laws fairly and with appropriate force.
Recent high-profile slayings of unarmed individuals by officers across the nation has made it necessary, Harris said, to find ways to strengthen trust between police and the public. The attorney general’s announcement came 2 days before Freddie Gray, a black man in Baltimore, died from spinal injuries on April 19. A week earlier, Gray was arrested and taken into police custody. Video shows he was unable to stand on his own after police pursued him by foot and made the arrest.
Joined by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones, Attorney General Harris outlined the results of an internal California Department of Justice 90-Day Review of its special agent training programs on implicit bias and use of force.
“The sacred trust between the men and women of law enforcement and the communities we serve is essential to a strong and safe California,” Harris said. “California is leading the way by releasing a review of our special agent trainings on implicit bias and the use of force. These actions are being taken with the goal of increasing transparency and with the expectation that California’s law enforcement agencies will use this work as a roadmap to review their own policies.”
Major highlights of the review call for:
• Establishing the first certified implicit bias and procedural justice training in the United States
• Developing and implementing the first-ever DOJ policy on implicit bias and racial profiling
• Training all of the Division’s command-level staff and on track to train all special agents on Fair and Impartial Policing and Implicit Bias, by the end of May 2015.
• Adoption of new body camera technologies to increase transparency and foster trust among Division special agents and the community
• Efforts to increase the recruitment and hiring of diverse special agents and trainees by expanding the pool of qualified candidates
Following her second inaugural speech in January, the attorney general created the 21st Century Policing Working Group to foster discussion regarding implicit bias and building community trust. The Working Group has held eight meetings and created subcommittees on three topics: effective training, community-oriented policing, and procedural justice. The subcommittees are exploring each of these issues in-depth, sharing best practices and policies, and discussing how they apply to various communities.
In addition, the Attorney General’s Office has convened community members, including roundtable discussions with high school students from South and East Los Angeles. The meetings served as an opportunity to listen to their experiences with police and their ideas on how to improve the relationship between youth and law enforcement.
Harris, a Democrat, is seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.