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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Expands Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice Training to the California Highway Patrol

Thursday, October 6, 2016
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that her office’s first-of-its-kind “Principled Policing: Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias” Train the Trainer course, designed to help law enforcement officers overcome barriers to neutral policing and rebuild the relationship of trust between law enforcement and the community, will be offered in Sacramento to California Highway Patrol (CHP) personnel on October 11 and 12.

“Every human being has implicit biases,” said Attorney General Harris. “We need to have an honest conversation that includes addressing the way implicit bias in policing undermines the public’s trust and has devastating effects on the safety and well-being of our communities. Through our principled policing course, we are bringing together law enforcement, community organizations, and leaders in academia to address bias, build trust and improve public safety.”

“For the CHP, public trust has been a cornerstone of our training since 1929.  As a statewide organization with jurisdiction in diverse communities across California, we look at every encounter we have with a member of the public as an opportunity to foster the public’s trust,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.  “We appreciate Attorney General Harris’ initiative to develop this training to enhance the public’s trust in us and to provide effective and impartial public safety services to the people of California and its visitors.”     

The training course is certified by California’s Peace Officers Standards Training (POST) Commission and was created last year in partnership with renowned social psychologist and Macarthur Genius, Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt of Stanford University.  It has previously been offered in both Los Angeles and Sacramento to command staff from 28 law enforcement agencies from across California. In response to the overwhelming demand following the November 2015 course for law enforcement command staff, last month, Attorney General Harris’ office led the first “train the trainer” version of the course for officers from 15 different California agencies, as well as community members from across the state.

“POST will infuse the tenets of Procedural Justice, Police Legitimacy and Implicit Bias throughout the entirety of the Regular Basic Course (Academy) and Field Training Program.  By weaving these concepts throughout the entry level peace officer training programs by means of a comprehensive service delivery model, POST hopes to enhance student learning outcomes, and reinforce the public service commitment that will serve as a catalyst for mutual trust and confidence between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” said POST Executive Director Manny Alvarez.

The “train the trainer” version of the course was developed by the Attorney General's office in partnership with the Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training, Stanford SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions), and the Oakland and Stockton Police Departments. The two-day (16-hour) course provides a “how-to” on teaching policing approaches that emphasize respect, listening, neutrality, and trust while also addressing the common implicit biases that can be barriers to these approaches.  The “train the trainer” curriculum was designed to enable officers from law enforcement agencies to gain the knowledge and skills to effectively teach the concepts of procedural justice and implicit bias to others within their departments and to tailor the training to their specific needs and community history.

The 2017 budget, signed by Governor Jerry Brown, allocates $5 million for POST to develop and offer the principled policing course in collaboration with the Attorney General’s office.  This funding will defray the cost for participating agencies, making it possible for many more officers throughout the state to be trained in procedural justice and implicit bias and fund opportunities for evaluation of the course.

As part of the course, all participants must complete a pre- and post-course survey, which Stanford University will compile and analyze in order to assess the effectiveness of the course. The evaluations of the first course showed that the training advanced police officers’ knowledge of procedural justice and implicit bias and the leaders who participated said they believed the training could help increase trust and decrease tension among police and members of the community.

The training is divided into five modules, recognizing the tenets of procedural justice: voice, neutrality, respect, and trustworthiness. Throughout the training participants learned by reviewing research findings, watching video clips and PowerPoint presentations illustrating key points, hearing from officers who shared personal experiences with community members, participating in group exercises, and engaging in frank and honest dialogue. The training also included discussions about the goals and motivations of police officers, the sources of stress and cynicism in policing, the historical and generational effects of policing, and finally, strategies for simultaneously enhancing police-community trust and improving the health and safety of police officers.

The training was first 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 early last year, Attorney General Harris has taken several steps to strengthen the trust between law enforcement and California communities. These actions include:

  • Convening and appointing members to the first-ever Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board to help address the issue of profiling by law enforcement.
  • 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 to focus on trust and transparency.
  • 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 publishes unprecedented data in an interactive, easy to use way.  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.
  • Releasing OpenJustice 1.1, which enriched the Web portal’s initial data sets with city, county, and state level context including population and demographic information, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment levels.
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