A Los Angeles police officer in December shows an on-body camera last year. California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Friday that the Department of Justice will become the first statewide agency to outfit its agents with body cameras. Marcus Yam Los Angeles Times
A Los Angeles police officer in December shows an on-body camera last year. California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Friday that the Department of Justice will become the first statewide agency to outfit its agents with body cameras. Marcus Yam Los Angeles Times

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California Department of Justice to use body cameras, Kamala Harris pledges

By Christopher Cadelago

ccadelago@sacbee.com

April 17, 2015 02:34 PM

Attorney General Kamala Harris said Friday that the California Department of Justice will become the first statewide agency to adopt a body camera program.

The department plans to provide body-worn recording equipment to special agents and establish privacy measures to regulate access to the recordings.

With increased focus on allegations of racial bias and police violence across the country, Harris earlier this year directed her division of law enforcement to review the Justice Department’s own special agent training on implicit bias and use of force. The state report comes after a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation into the city of Ferguson, Mo., found that police and court officials there discriminated against blacks.

California, as a result of the 90-day review, is adopting new processes to increase transparency after officer-involved shootings, and plans to change its hiring qualifications, such as lowering education requirements for special agents, to promote a more diverse pools of applicants. Harris said she also is launching the nation’s first implicit bias training for law enforcement agencies that would be certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

“There is work that we continually need to do to rededicate ourselves to excellence,” she told reporters at a news conference in Los Angeles, joined by police department brass from the city and county, as well as Oakland, Stockton and Oxnard.

Harris, a 2016 candidate for the U.S. Senate, said as part of the state department’s internal assessment law enforcement leaders from across the state met to discuss new policing strategies, including community-oriented approaches that allow for more collaboration between officers and residents.

She highlighted a program in Long Beach, “Why’d You Stop Me?,” which she called “a way of doing business that gives the community information about how we do our jobs, why we do our jobs and why we engage in certain behavior.”

Harris said enforcement agencies are working with Stanford University to begin analyzing the effectiveness of any training.

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago.