Clinton: ‘I Think Implicit Bias Is a Problem for Everyone’

By Melanie Arter | September 27, 2016 | 2:01pm EDT
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question during the presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

( – At the first presidential debate of 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Monday that “implicit bias” against blacks “is a problem for everyone, not just police.”

“Secretary Clinton, last week, you said we've got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people?” NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt asked.

“Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other, and therefore, I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, you know, why am I feeling this way?” Clinton said.

“But when it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers,” she said.

“I've met with a group of very distinguished, experienced police chiefs a few weeks ago. They admit it's an issue. They've got a lot of concerns. Mental health is one of the biggest concerns, because now police are having to handle a lot of really difficult mental health problems on the street,” Clinton said. “They want support. They want more training. They want more assistance, and I think the federal government could be in a position where we would offer and provide that.”

Trump responded by bringing up Clinton’s use of the word “super-predator” when describing the need to combat gangs in aspeech in 1996 about the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which then-President Bill Clinton signed into law.

“I do want to bring up the fact that you were the one that brought up the words super-predator about young black youth, and that's a term that I think was … it's been horribly met, as you know. I think you've apologized for it, but I think it was a terrible thing to say,” said Trump.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Associated Press)

Holt began his questioning on race by saying, “The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it's been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African-Americans by police, as we've seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap. So how do you heal the divide?”

“Well, you're right. Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get, and, yes, it determines how they're treated in the criminal justice system. We've just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa and Charlotte, and we've got to do several things at the same time,” Clinton said.

“We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they're well prepared to use force only when necessary. Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law,” she said.

“Right now, that's not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods. So I have, ever since the first day of my campaign, called for criminal justice reform. I've laid out a platform that I think would begin to remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system, but we also have to recognize, in addition to the challenges that we face with policing, there are so many good, brave police officers who equally want reform,” Clinton said.

“So we have to bring communities together in order to begin working on that as a mutual goal, and we've got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,” she said. “The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African- American men, more than the next nine causes put together.”

When asked how he would “heal the racial divide,” Trump said, “Secretary Clinton doesn't want to use a couple of words, and that's law and order, and we need law and order. If we don't have it, we're not going to have a country.”

“And when I look at what's going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what's going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it's -- I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long -- we need law and order in our country,” he said.

“We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African- Americans, Hispanics are living in hell, because it's so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they've had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st. Thousands of shootings. And I'm saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing?” Trump said.

“And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order. In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years, in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over -- almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order,” he said.

“Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down, but you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn't be having it. We have gangs roaming the street,” Trump added.

“And in many cases, they're illegally here - illegal immigrants - and they have guns, and they shoot people, and we have to be very strong, and we have to be very vigilant,” Trump said, adding that in many cases, “the police are afraid to do anything.”


Holt told Trump that “stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.”

“No, you're wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her, and our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it's allowed,” Trump said.

“The argument is that it's a form of racial profiling,” Holt said.

“No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and they are bad people that shouldn't have them,” Trump responded. “These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn't be -- when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns, from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk.”

Trump said that in places like Chicago, “you don’t have good community relations.”

“You need more police. You need a better community, you know, relation. You don't have good community relations in Chicago. It's terrible. I have property there. It's terrible what's going on in Chicago, but when you look -- and Chicago's not the only -- you go to Ferguson, you go to so many different places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this,” Trump said.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's hand during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo)

Clinton also called for a plan to “divert people from the criminal justice system” and to deal with mandatory minimum sentences. She also called for “more second chance programs.”

“We need to have more second chance programs. I'm glad that we're ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn't have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans. So there are some positive ways we can work on this,” she said.

Clinton also called for “commonsense gun safety measures.”

“We need to keep guns out of the hands of those who will do harm,” she said, “and we finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who's on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you're too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun. So there are things we can do, and we ought to do it in a bipartisan way.”

Trump agreed with Clinton that people on the issue of no-fly lists and watch lists should not be able to buy a gun, but he said those on watch lists who shouldn’t be on it should receive assistance in getting off the list.

“I agree, and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watch lists and no-fly lists. I agree with you,” Trump said.

“But I think we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watch lists, and when people are on there, even if they shouldn't be on there, we'll help them, we'll help them legally, we'll help them get off, but I tend to agree with that quite strongly,” he said.

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