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Santa Clara Co. Sheriff's Deputies May Receive Training To Combat Implicit Bias

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors directed county staff Tuesday to develop a plan for implicit bias training at the sheriff's office.

Supervisor Joe Simitian proposed the idea during Tuesday's board meeting in San Jose. It's aimed at preventing tragedies that have been seen nationwide since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Simitian said.

Brown, 18, was a black man fatally shot by a white police officer in August 2014 while he was unarmed, which led to demonstrations across the country.

Brown's death brought to light other police killings involving unarmed black men and boys by officers including the chokehold death of Eric Garner, 43, in New York in July 2014.

Implicit biases are not only limited to race and ethnicity but extend to other characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation and income, Simitian said.

The training is aimed toward patrol staff, but should also apply to command staff, according to Simitian.

It would be a "pretty rigorous program" that would last 30 to 40 hours, similar to Crisis Intervention Training that helps officers in communicating with people suffering from mental illness, he said.

The course will help strengthen the public's trust in law enforcement, according to Simitian.

The training builds upon the county's current effort in providing body-worn cameras for deputies, he said.

Simitian said he has discussed the proposal with Sheriff Laurie Smith and her training staff in addition to the district attorney's and public defender's offices.

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