Joining fellow law enforcement officials Wednesday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said she doesn’t believe there should be statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers.
“I as a general matter believe that we should invest in the ability of law enforcement leaders in specific regions and with their departments to use ... discretion to figure out what technology they are going to adopt based on needs that they have and resources that they have,” Harris told reporters in Sacramento.
“So, I don’t think we can have a one-size-fits-all approach to this,” she added.
Harris, whose own department is the first statewide agency to adopt a body camera program, waded into an issue that has sparked intense debate at the Capitol. One measure, Assembly Bill 66, has undergone several revisions to permit police officers in most jurisdictions to review footage captured on the cameras before giving a report of an incident involving force.
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At a recent hearing, several police testified that they favored allowing each department to set their own standards.
Use of the body-worn equipment was thrust into the national dialogue following a string of officer-involved incidents, many involving young African Americans. Harris, who is running for the U.S. Senate, has established a new training protocol for law enforcement that focuses on “implicit bias” and related issues.
She said there needs to be broader acknowledgment that certain communities distrust law enforcement.
“We have a history in this country that we can be proud of and then there’s a part of the history that we are not proud of,” Harris said, adding, “But we also have to acknowledge that the relationship of trust is a reciprocal relationship, and everyone has a responsibility to be a part of leading that effort.”