Attorney General D. Kamala Harris Sponsors Legislation to Expand Principled Policing Training for Law Enforcement

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Assemblymembers Reggie Jones- Sawyer and Rob Bonta have introduced legislation to expand Principled Policing training to law enforcement agencies across the state to address issues of implicit bias and community trust.

The legislation, AB 2626, would require the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to create and offer a course for peace officers on procedural justice and implicit bias. The new law enforcement training would be modeled on the POST-certified course created by Attorney General Harris last year, the first of its kind in the country.

“Bias in policing undermines the public’s trust and has devastating effects on the safety and well-being of our communities,” said Attorney General Harris. “AB 2626 will establish a critical new law enforcement training that leads with the community policing principles of respect and dialogue, and directly addresses the crisis of confidence between peace officers and the communities we are sworn to protect.”  

"As Chair of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California, I was proud to introduce AB 2626 with Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer to address implicit bias," said Assemblymember Bonta. "AB 2626 will strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the community and help ensure better outcomes during police-community interactions. We know that working with the community, and truly understanding the community’s experiences, can reduce crime and promote respect for the rule of law. AB 2626 will help rebuild community trust in law enforcement, stop the disproportionate flow of boys and men of color in to our criminal justice system, and ensure that every Californian experiences real, unfettered justice."

Procedural justice is an approach to policing that emphasizes the importance of treating everyone equally and with respect. Implicit bias, which is thoughts or feelings about social groups that can influence decisions or actions, can be a barrier to procedural justice. The training proposed in AB 2626 would work to create statewide awareness of both procedural justice and implicit bias in order to build trust and improve public and officer safety.

In addition, AB 2626 would require POST to develop guidelines and trainings enabling peace officers to teach the course to other officers in their agencies. If passed, the bill will require POST to offer the basic principled policing course and the trainer course beginning in June 2017.

“It is undeniable that racial profiling continues to exist within policing and the criminal justice system,” said Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer. “In order to reduce incidents of police brutality it is critical that law enforcement receive training on how  to overcome implicit racial bias.”

“On behalf of POST, we are proud to join Attorney General Harris in offering this innovative course on Principled Policing.” said Bob Stresak, Executive Director of POST.  “The high enrollment in this course is a testament to California's law enforcement leaders recognizing that California's communities deserve the highest levels of professional service and that they are  committed to making every effort to accomplish this goal.”

In November 2015, the California Department of Justice held the first trainings of its POST-certified course, Principled Policing:  Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias. The trainings were conducted in partnership with the Stanford University Center for Social Psychology Answers to Real World Questions (SPARQ), Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, Reverend Ben McBride from the Empower Initiative, the Oakland and Stockton Police Departments, and the community organization California Partnership for Safe Communities.

A white paper evaluating the Principled Policing training, published jointly by the Department of Justice and Stanford University Center for SPARQ, assessed the effectiveness of the course in educating police officers about procedural justice and implicit bias, as well as shifts in perceptions about police-community relations. According to this evaluation, the course unearthed tremendous hidden potential for the principled policing training to build greater understanding between law enforcement and communities.

This training was developed as part of the California Department of Justice’s 90-Day Review of its own special agent training programs on implicit bias and use of force which were announced in April 2015.

Since January 2015, Attorney General Harris has taken several steps to strengthen the trust between law enforcement and California communities. These actions include:

  • Directing 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.
  • Instituting a body camera policy for all DOJ special agent personnel conducting field operations.
  • Convening law enforcement, youth and community organizations.
  • Creating the 21st Century Policing Working Group to foster discussion regarding implicit bias and building community trust.
  • Launching OpenJustice, a first-of-its-kind criminal justice open data initiative that will release unprecedented data while being interactive and easy to use. The tool spotlights key criminal justice indicators and embraces transparency in the criminal justice system to strengthen trust, enhance government accountability, and inform public policy.
  • Creating a POST-Certified Training on Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice.

 

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