Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Releases Results of 90-Day Review of Special Agent Training on Implicit Bias and Use of Force

Attorney General also announces statewide training on implicit bias and creation of 21st Century Policing Working Group

Friday, April 17, 2015
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES—Today, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced 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. As part of the review process, the Attorney General 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,” said Attorney General Harris.  “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, Attorney General Harris directed the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement (the Division) to conduct a 90-Day Review of its special agent trainings on implicit bias and use of force. The Division conducted this review over the course of three months and in consultation with a diverse group of 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. 

“I have long believed that law enforcement functions best when we work with and not simply in our community,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. “We must continuously earn the trust of our community; these partnerships have become even more critical over the past year. 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," said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.

The actions announced by DOJ’s 90-Day Review include the development of the first Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice training in the United States, to be certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”). The course is being developed in collaboration with Stanford University Professor Jennifer L. Eberhardt, POST, 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 DOJ special agent personnel conducting field operations. The review also included recommendations to increase the recruitment and hiring of a more diverse workforce of special agents and trainees.

Major highlights of the review include: 

• Established the first certified implicit bias and procedural justice training in the United States
• Developed and implemented the first-ever DOJ policy on implicit bias and racial profiling
• Trained 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 

In her inaugural address, Attorney General Harris outlined a plan to convene and work with state and local law enforcement partners, community leaders and youth to develop solutions, to increase mutual understanding and strengthen trust. As a result, 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.  

A copy of the review can be found is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.

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PDF icon 90 Day Review, pdf110.75 KB