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Harris creates law enforcement training on bias, use of force

LOS ANGELES — California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has announced the results of an internal state Department of Justice 90-day review of its special agent training programs on bias and use of force. As part of the review process, Harris also created the 21st Century Policing Working Group made up of a diverse coalition of sheriffs, chiefs and other law enforcement leaders from across the state. The release of the department’s review and the creation of the working group are part of an effort to address the crisis of confidence between law enforcement and the communities they serve. “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.” In her second inaugural address in January, Harris directed the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement to conduct a 90-day review of its special agent trainings on implicit bias and use of force. The division conducted the review in consultation with community organizations, advocates, leading academics and law enforcement agencies across the state. The results of the review can serve as a blueprint for California law enforcement agencies to critically examine existing policies and tailor recommendations to their communities, a spokesperson for Harris said. “I have long believed that law enforcement functions best when we work with and not simply in our community,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said. “We must continuously earn the trust of our community. “I applaud the work Attorney General Kamala Harris has done to bring law enforcement leaders together to develop new thinking and strategies in this arena. I look forward to working with her and other law enforcement partners on this important issue.” “I am pleased to join other law enforcement leaders in this most worthy endeavor to address building community trust. Law enforcement is a noble profession and the men and women of the Stockton Police Department have been doing some great work in this area that we look forward to sharing,” Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said. Part of the 90-day review involved the development of the first Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice training in the United States, to be certified by the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. The course is being developed in collaboration with leaders from the Oakland and Stockton Police Departments, and the California Partnership for Safe Communities. As part of the review process, the division trained all command-level staff and 24 special agents on fair and impartial policing and implicit bias, and is on track to train the remainder of agents by the end of May. The division will also institute a body camera policy for all Department of Justice special agents conducting field operations. The review also included recommendations to increase the recruitment and hiring of a more diverse workforce of special agents and trainees. 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.