Capitol Alert

Debate fact check: Kamala Harris’s body camera comments didn’t tell full story of her record

Harris confronts Biden about racism in tense exchange

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronts Joe Biden about racism during the second day of the NBC Democratic Presidential Primary Debates for the 2020 elections on June 27, 2019.
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Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronts Joe Biden about racism during the second day of the NBC Democratic Presidential Primary Debates for the 2020 elections on June 27, 2019.

During Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, California Sen. Kamala Harris got into a heated exchange about race with former Vice President Joe Biden.

When confronting Biden about his record, she spoke about actions she took as California’s attorney general, saying, “I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.”

It’s true the California Department of Justice became the first statewide law enforcement agency in the country mandating officers wear body cameras, but that requirement only applied to people working for Harris. It did not extend to all local police officers across the state.

In 2015, Harris told The Sacramento Bee she didn’t support statewide standards regulating the use of officer-worn body cameras. She wanted local agencies to set their own regulations.

“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 said after an event with fellow law enforcement officials.

Since her election to the U.S. Senate, Harris has sponsored legislation that would create a pilot program for border patrol officers to wear body cameras.

Her campaign did not immediately respond when reached for comment.

Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.
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