Sen. Kamala Harris: If Teachers Are Armed, They Should Be Trained on 'Implicit Bias'

By Susan Jones | March 15, 2018 | 7:44am EDT
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks at a March 14, 2018 hearing on school safety. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she's troubled by the Trump administration's suggestion that willing teachers should be armed in the classroom.

Part of her objection stems from having young children see teachers "strapped with a gun"; part of it stems from her concern that even trained professionals miss their targets sometimes; and part of it has to do with race.

While questioning David Bowdich, the associate deputy director of the FBI, at a hearing on school safety Tuesday, Harris expressed concern about "having armed teachers as it relates to African-American and Hispanic students.

"And here's why I say that," she continued. "There's an overwhelming body of evidence that shows that harsh discipline protocols disproportionately impact children of color. We know that (from) the studies that talk about what the rates are in terms of suspensions and expulsions from schools."

Harris said the FBI has done an extraordinary job of recognizing implicit bias in law enforcement, and she said such training should apply to all professions.

"Do you have any concern about a policy that would result in arming teachers, and concern that we should make sure that if something like that would occur, that there would be training around implicit bias?" Harris asked Bowditch.

"Senator, it's a good question," Bowdich replied. "I never really put the two together, but I have not seen the document that you're referencing. I think whatever we decide, training is necessary on all fronts. The implicit bias training that we in the FBI administer, I believe it was two years ago, is actually very important for the organization as a whole, both internally but also from the optics of the external as well."

To which Harris responded: "The FBI's been a leader on recognizing we all carry implicit bias, and it's important that we are aware of it when we make decisions, especially exercise judgment that might result in harm or even death to another person."

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