Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove introduces Assembly Bills 241, 242 and 243 to address implicit bias inherent in healthcare, courts and policing

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

(SACRAMENTO) – Recognizing a need to acknowledge and reduce unintended bias, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation to incorporate implicit bias training into continued education for healthcare, law enforcement and judicial personnel.

Professionals in these three sectors have the power to make decisions that may alter the lives significantly of the people they interact with regularly in their official roles.

For example, women are more likely to survive a heart attack when they are treated by a female physician, according to a 2018 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Women who see female doctors are three times more likely to survive cardiac emergencies than women who see male doctors.

When black men and white men commit the same crime, black men on average receive sentences almost 20 percent longer, according to survey data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2017.

A 2015 study by a University of California, Davis professor found that the probability of being black, unarmed and shot by police is about 3.5 times the probability of being white, unarmed and shot by police on average.

In Assembly Bill 241, Kamlager-Dove proposes requiring implicit bias training as a component of continued medical education (CME) for licensees under the Medical Board, Physician Assistant Board and Board of Registered Nursing.

Assembly Bill 242 would mandate implicit bias testing and training every three years for officers of the court, including judges, attorneys and trial court administrative employees. 

Assembly Bill 243 would require biennial Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) in implicit bias for peace officers after completion of the basic law enforcement training academy.

“If we believe that certain lives are less valuable than others, then we may be less likely to try and save those lives. If we believe that certain people are more threatening, then we may be less willing to defend their rights. If we believe that certain people are more likely to commit crimes, then we may be more likely to believe that they are guilty,” said Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove. “Unless and until we take a pause and address subconscious bias, outcomes are going to be just as harmful as if they were explicit biases,” she said.

Passage of the legislation in California would be a comprehensive victory to reduce disparities in health care, the judicial system and law enforcement.

“Recognizing and confronting implicit bias is essential if we are to fight discrimination and promote greater justice in our society,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), a coauthor of the three bills. “AB 241, AB 242 and AB 243 tackle implicit bias in healthcare, the judicial system and law enforcement. These bills work to prevent discrimination and create greater understanding in critical areas of life where all people should have confidence that they’ll be treated fairly.”

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, also a coauthor of bills, stated "Here is what we know about implicit bias – we all have it. It is imbedded in our criminal justice and health care systems, and too often keeps women from advancing in the workforce. But we can provide tools to adjust our patterns of thinking. This suite of bills will provide necessary training for our healthcare, law enforcement and judicial personnel to deal with the issue head on." 

Assembly District 54 consists of Baldwin Hills, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw District, Century City, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Rancho Park, Westwood and parts of South Los Angeles and Inglewood.